This is far from the first jazz album to send some wandering soul on a voyage. Among others, Chris Potter's record The Sirens (ECM, 2013) was inspired by Homer's epic saga The Odyssey. Now comes Greek artist Konstantinos Papachristou with a very modern quest, wherein a man seeks the meaning of life amid our material distractions.
Papachristou has openly stated he kept ECM's legacy in mind when recording this work. Apart from Potter's classic, some others from the same label being aspired to here might be Andy Sheppard's Surrounded By Sea (ECM, 2015) and Jumping The Creek by Charles Lloyd (ECM, 2005).
Also known for designing electronic audio equipment, Papachristou has written music for Greek TV. His technical know-how allows for a very "live" sound, with his tenor sax right in your face from the start. But this also highlights some moments where the phrasing feels a bit loose and not quite slick enough.
Papachristou throws in the occasional brays and buzzes, yet mostly stays languid and poetic with a calm purpose. Our journey begins with the sleepy morning feel of "Wake-Up Call." As the mind slowly engages, sax lines melt away like dream fragments over busy piano flurries. "Disoriented" allows the drum, bass and piano to create a tranquil yet edgy mood. Ditto on the title track, where a solo percussion spot has echoes of Daoist drumming, like an old sage summoning dragon spirits. At length the bass beckons Papachristou back for a final bluesy solo.
Elsewhere we get a rueful study on "A Perplexed State Of Mind," full of late night disquiet. Also the spacious jollity of "Breathing A Sign Of Relief"; a retro piano number in "Last Request," not to mention various lounge strains scattered throughout. Most potent of all is "Hallucinations," where eerie cinematics, full of unnerving piano chords, meet some lovely velvet sax. Another memorable effort closes the album as "Vigilance" brings lingering vibrato to send shivers through your very core.
Whether this final track is the journey's end, or just another stepping stone, is anyone's guess. For the most part, this latter-day concept album is thoughtfully realised and expertly guided by Papachristou.
Wake-Up Call; Disoriented; The Darkness of a Fairy Tale; A Perplexed State of Mind; Hallucinations; Joining Forces; Breathing a Sign of Relief; Last Regret; Tranquility; Reminiscent of a Glorious Era; Vigilance.
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