Friday, April 27, 2012

Spyros Manesis Trio Undelivered JACC 2012

In the Obama economy we hear people that still complain about our best jobs going overseas. When we start having to import our best jazz as well then the issue begins to hit a little close to home for me! Undelivered is global jazz on steroids. World swing as vibrant and deep as the color art and equally as beautiful. I have had the distinct pleasure of having artists from Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Finland, Australia and probably another half dozen countries I am forgetting and now we have Undelivered which is the debut release from a stellar piano trio from Greece.

While focusing on original work by pianist Spyros Manesis, "On Green Dolphin Street" makes a more than fitting appearance and is done to perfection by this most formidable trio. Having been the first jazz tune I attempted in my formative years, there is deceptively subtle groove on this version. World swing. Manesis has the ability to change harmonics on the fly and despite odd time signatures there is a free flowing lyrical beauty that is captivating. Self-indulgence is passed by as this stellar trio works the tune with one harmonious train of thought. Musical cohesion. "Falling" is a far more intimate ballad, a tune in search of its own identity. Melancholy but never morose, at times cinematic as though a pristine tune in search of an epic feature film there is a captivating quality as the trio takes on a far more organic approach in presentation. The title track "Undelivered" fits in the all most flawless ebb and flow of lyrical and harmonic direction. The subtle nuances provided by drummer Kaspars Kurdeko and double-bassist Joao Hasselberg is as strong as they come. Technically proficient and artistically gifted it would be incredibly difficult to recall a piano trio that can perform at this level.

There is an unfair cultural separate but equal when it comes to comparing improvised music from Eastern Europe and that of what we traditionally refer to as jazz here in the United States. The Spyros Manesis Trio and their compositional skill alone has created a new fusion of sound. A jazz collective of sound where east and west merge into a harmonic presentation that attacks the visceral and cerebral.

For a debut release the compositional excellence, the instrumental command and lyrical direction not to forget the intense chemistry that working bands twenty years their senior have tried and never reached.

This is the real deal. 5 Huge Stars!

Tracks: Cold Inside; Not Yet; Amsterdam, On Green Dolphin Street; Falling; The Pinwheel; Undelivered; Exodus.

Personnel: Spyros Manesis: piano; Joao Hasselberg: double-bass; Kaspars Kurdeko: drums.