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Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Anja Lechner/U.T. Ghandi: Melos

Dan McClenaghan By

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Melos approaches a highbrow listening experience. It's another gorgeous offering from ECM Records, teaming Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos with German cellist Anja Lechner and Italian drummer U.T. Gandhi. From the first delicate piano notes of the title tune, joined in short order by the rich, mournful cry of the cello, it's obvious that the players have spent their formative times in the classical world.

So, for the jazz bean counters out there, this might not fit in snug fashion into the genre. But for those who can eraser the square little label boxes, Melos is a set of undeniably beautiful sounds, full of floating spontaneity and intricate improvisational interplay.

Lechner's jazz profile shines with her work on the much praised duo set, Ojos Negros (ECM Records, 2007), with bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, while Gandhi joined Saluzzi on Juan Condori (ECM Records, 2006).

Tsabropoulos and Lechner previously teamed up for Chants, Hymns and Dances (ECM Records, 2004), playing arrangements of Greek-Armenian philosopher G.I. Gurdjieff's compositions. On Melos, only two of the compositions come from the pen of Gurdjieff; the rest are Tsabropoulos originals.

Tsabropoulos writes strong, compelling melodies, and has a supple keyboard touch. The atmosphere of the set is mostly ruminative and spacious, Gandhi shading things with understatement and subtlety and finesse, while Lechner makes one wonder if there is a more beautiful sound in the world than a cello well-played.

But it's not a sound to be picked apart. The trio becomes one in the joy of making music—much as a classical orchestra does—to create an art that is beyond genres, enriching and unfailingly lovely, and perhaps a bit highbrow in the best possible sense of the word.

Track Listing: Melos; Song Of Prosperity I; Tibetan Dance; Gift of Dreams; Reflections; Simplicity; Song Of Gratitude; Song Of Prosperity II; Sayyid Dance; Promenade; Reflections And Shadows; Reading From A Sacred Book (fragment); Vocalise; Evocation; In Memory.

Personnel: Vassilis Tsabropoulos: piano; Anja Lechner: violoncello; U.T. Gandhi: percussion.

Title: Melos | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records

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