Greek drummer Alex Louloudis is an exciting composer with a refreshingly personal style. Classically trained, Louloudis has also received rigorous jazz education and, over a handful of years, has established himself as an integral member of New York's creative music scene. His second release, the intense and stimulating Words
, exhibits his skills to the full.
Released on the Belgian Off
label, the album starts off with "Surviving" which features a two-tenor saxophone front line. The fiery intro is an angular melody which Louloudis drives with his restless polyrhythms. Saxophonists Kaelen Ghandhi
and Rafael Statin
create a dynamic sonic lattice with blistering passion and delightful flirtations with dissonance. Bassist Dean Torrey
deftly anchors the stormy repartee.
The same ensemble interprets the title track which, in contrast to the opener, is languid and contemplative. Guitarist Aaron Rubinstein
peppers the haunting group performance with his resonant chimes and strums, while Statin and Ghandhi interweave their sinewy lines with ethereal elegance. Vocalist Rosdeli Marte
articulates Louloudis' lyrics with a poignant dramatic sense and, later, her wordless singing fades gracefully in and out of the introspective melancholic atmosphere.
The rest of the recording is in a sparse trio setting. "Ochun's Dance," for instance, is an exhilarating and intricate spontaneous conversation, with Statin blowing with soulful swagger, Louloudis laying down thunderous beats and Torrey playing dark and complex refrains with lithe agility. Statin's blustery improvisation burns with emotion while Louloudis and Torrey rumble with measured abandon on this exciting an unfettered piece
"Expedition for NOLA" has a more "traditional" cadence, yet with the same innovative extemporaneous spirit. The three men feed off each other's ideas with sophistication, and progressively create a free and provocative melange of virtuosic solos and vibrant trio exchanges. Even in its most deconstructed state, the tune's shimmering inner lyricism remains intact.
Despite his relative youth, Louloudis is already making bold artistic statements. Words
is a captivating work which has a taut momentum from first note to last. Louloudis demonstrates remarkable maturity in his writing, and a seamless camaraderie with his side musicians as a band leader. He is at the threshold of a brilliant and promising career.