Jazz's ability to absorb new musical traditions and take advantage of novel instrumentation is one of its most notable features. Fans of this form of experimentation will appreciate pianist Lefteris Kordis' forays into merging jazz with traditional Greek and other Mediterranean lineages.
Delivered as a series of piano trio plus guest artist compositions, Mediterrana's strength is the subtle blending of timbers Kordis deftly guides from behind the piano, and a consistently restrained approach which results in a refined fusion of styles, rather than a banal grafting of one tradition onto the other.
The album's eight selections possess common themes, presenting a variety of scenes centered on the image of a woman in various settings. From the opening "In the Land of Phrygians," one of the more overtly ethnic-tinged pieces, to the clever recasting of the Beatles "And I Love Her," to the closing "Nas," the overall tone is one of serenity and sensuous delight, comprised of equal parts nostalgia, fantasy, and immediate experience.
Kordis is supported adeptly throughout by Petros Klampanis on bass and Ziv Ravitz on drums, and the album benefits greatly from the judicious infusion of a variety of traditional Mediterranean instruments, in particular the use of the flute-like ney and the laouto, cousin to the lute.
Stand-out moments include the aphrodisiac "Yota," which shimmers with gossamer fluidity, the verdant pastoral "Deep Green," and the light as air "Journey with Pilgrims."
Unfolding like a well-orchestrated, multi-course meal, each tune on Mediterrana can be enjoyed individually, but each is also part of one gratifying experience, in this case a refreshing, restrained combination of both quality and inventiveness.
1. In the Land of Phrygians; 2. Yota; 3. Mediterrana; 4. Deep Green; 5. The Raven and the Fox; 6. Journey with Pilgrims; 7. And I Love Her; 8. Nas
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