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Thursday, July 21, 2016

CD Review: Lefteris Kordis – Mediterrana (Goddess of Light)

Lefteris Kordis (pno & Korg Analogue Synth), Petros Klampanis (bass), Ziv Ravitz (dms),Roni Eytan (harmonica),Vasilis Kostas (laouto),Harris Lambrakis (ney), Alec Spiegelman (clar & bs clar),with John Lockwood (bass) & Sergio Diaz(cajon & claps) on track 3 only.
(Review by Dave Brownlow)
A captivating CD by pianist Lefteris Kordis grabbed my attention from the first few bars. Greek born, now based in Boston, Kordis has lived in the U.S. for twenty years and Mediterrana is actually his fifth album A fluent player with a lovely “touch” who combines that facility with a vivid imagination, drive and originality. Here, he employs a piano-led jazz trio and, interestingly; incorporates several ‘Greek’ instruments to provide a unique and unconventional sound which blends perfectly with the ‘Western’ jazz idiom - Sound of Surprise indeed!
This is not listening to Zorba the Greek on a continuous loop while sitting in a Taverna on a Greek holiday island waiting for the moussaka to be served to the sound of breaking plates!
There are seven original compositions by Kordis and one pop “standard” from the Beatles. The music is about a girl who ‘appears’ in various forms and places throughout the Mediterranean Paradise.
In The Land Of Phrygians features Harris Lambrakis on ney (a bamboo flute) followed by the leader on Korg Synth over a gorgeous chord sequence. The piece ebbs and flows with wailing Hellenic solos linking well with the original theme and arrangement.
Yota , we learn, is the spirit of the Greek Goddess Artemis, the Goddess of Light. A long out-of-tempo intro from the pianist incorporating ‘Debussy-esque’, Jarrett and Bill Evans’ influences leads into an extended trio performance in which all three ‘stretch out’ over nine and a half minutes of interplay and solos.
Mediterrana a girl with African and Arabic traits, is a lively, spritely companion with solos from Vasilos Kostas on the warm-toned laouto (a Greek fretted lute), coupled with ornamental harmonica passages from Roni Eytan. Deep Green is bass-led   with decorative high piano clusters of notes and haunting, plaintive harmonica leading to improvisation from all participants – very atmospheric!
The Raven & The Fox based on one of Aesop’s fables, features joyful musical interplay from the Trio with colourful percussion work from Ziv Ravitz.
Journey with Pilgrims takes us on a pilgrimage to a Russian church where the music is suitably reverential from keening harmonica and fluent ney – all minor scales and modes cleverly arranged with call-and-response figures and mystical “Eastern” passages.
The Beatles classic And I Love Her is a thoroughly beautiful re-harmonised version played in a ‘Keith Jarrett Standards’ style with great work from bass and drums, weaving in and out of the major and minor key – charming stuff! Finally, Alec Spiegelman on clarinet and bass-clarinet comes to the fore together with Eytan’s harmonica in Nas where ‘Artemis sits at her temple’. A thoughtful, reflective, finale to the album using harmonic and melodic minor scales (and others I’ve never heard of!) Here we have a very musical CD with fresh ideas – but don’t just take my word for it; Bob Brookmeyer, Steve Lacy and Danilo Perez have all commented favourably on Lefteris Kordis and his music.
Recommended.                                                                                                                                            
Dave.
CD available from July 26 on Inner Circle Records – INCM 052 CD. And www.leftchordmusic.com
Lefteris Kordis Music.

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