Greek saxophonist Dimitri Vassilakis' third album for Candid is a one-course, big plate feast of rugged, gruff-toned tenor saxophone and high-torque bass and drums. It swings hard from start to finish, with only the halfway point "Soul Eyes" providing a pause, and does both Vassilakis and his primary influence, Sonny Rollins, proud. It was released in Europe this past fall and will be out in the US shortly.
In his liner notes, Vassilakis cites Rollins' Freedom Suite with Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach as the chief inspiration for Parallel Lines. The new album is built around a 25-minute suite of three original compositions"Parallel Lines," "Little One," and "Ocean," recorded in July '03to which Vassilakis returned in the studio a year later, taking bass loops from the originals and overdubbing new saxophone and drum parts, creating shorter versions which he has retitled with the suffix "Groove." The closing track, "The Drum Think," recorded in early '05, is a saxophone/drums duet which revisits both the original and the "Groove" trilogies. Each track at some point refers back to the same four-note chord in the key of C.
If all this sounds a little drawn out, contrived, and monotonous, it is none of those things: the music is fresh, organic, and energised. Ideas tumble out of Vassilakis' tenor (he plays soprano only occasionally)and there's a depth to his tone which reminds you, happily, of Rollins and, while Vassilakis rarely uses split notes or harmonics, another notable Rollins descendant, David S. Ware. Essiet Okon Essiet and Jeff Tain Watts both contribute passionate solos (on "Ocean" and "Little One" respectively), but most of the album is Vassilakis', and he strides out with vigour and sustained invention.
A very fine album from a player who is only now approaching first maturity.
Parallel Lines; Little One; Ocean; Swinging Second; Soul Eyes; James; Ocean Groove; Little One Groove; Parallel Lines Groove; The Drum Think.
Dimitri Vassilakis: tenor and soprano saxophones, drums (7-10), vocals (9); Essiet Okon Essiet: bass (1-9); Jeff Tain Watts: drums (1-7).
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.