Tassos Spiliotopoulos - Archipelagos
Guitar wizard Tassos Spiliotopoulos' Archipelagos was released on 24th May on F-IRE Records. This is a trio recording with ace bassist Yaron Stavi and drum phenomenon Asaf Sirkis, omitting saxophonist Robin Fincker from Spiliotopoulos' previous quartet.
The resulting album is much more intimate than the previous quartet release, Wait For Dusk. Although Spiliotopoulos' fusion-based approach of blending classical, rock and folk elements into a contemporary jazz idiom remains essentially the same, there is a greater emphasis here on prog rock influences. In particular, the influences of earlier fusion exponents such as Allan Holdsworth (an influence Spiliotopoulos shares with Sirkis) and John McLaughlin come more strongly to the fore, while at the same time being beautifully suffused into Spiliotopoulos' own distinct style and voice, both of which have matured considerably since the first album. The trio is now a very close-knit one, indeed one of the tightest of its kind, and has grown to be extremely comfortable and at ease together over the last few years, also aided by their also performing as the Asaf Sirkis Trio.
Spiliotopoulos is unquestionably one of the finest young jazz guitarists anywhere and confident enough to afford his collaborators ample freedom and scope to shine as well. They are joined by two very special guest artists, veteran trumpet master Kenny Wheeler on Cosmic Motion, who at a sprightly eighty is still in fine voice and on top form, and guitar phenomenon John Parricelli on The Quest, contributing the gorgeous second guitar solo.
With the perfect balance between composition and soloing, Archipelagos presents moods ranging from the outright joyous to the meditative. Hauntingly beautiful at times, delicate and intricate, at others Archipelagos turns high energy. The rich palettes of all the players paint a sound picture that sparkles brilliantly. While the virtuosity of this trio is beyond questioning, they never indulge in it for its own sake. The soloing all round is as outstanding as you would expect from this calibre of musicians.
Undoubtedly, Tassos Spiliotopoulos' Archipelagos is one of the most exciting guitar-led trio albums of recent times. The music remains delightfully accessible and is possessed of a great intimacy, as well as charm and wit.
With not a single weak track, Archipelagos is a completely consistent album and highly compelling, even mesmerising, to boot. It's an album you'll want to listen to again and again.
For any good jazz collection, let alone fusion or guitar, then, Tassos Spiliotopoulos' Archipelagos is an absolute "must have" album, more than essential.
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