The Cypriot jazz scene is growing in diversity and talent judging by four top jazz CD releases in the last two years.
Recently, I very much enjoyed live concerts presenting’Bridge of Locks‘ by the Ioannou-Vafeas Quartet, ‘Minor Change’ by Limassol-based guitarist Ermis Michail, ‘World Without Words’ by TriCoolOre, and ‘The Underdog’ by guitarist Loizos Pafitis.
‘Bridge of Locks’ (2017) features compositions by US-based saxophonist Chris Byars. It’s a lush exploration of New York-influenced straight-ahead jazz played by saxophonist Charis Ioannou, drummer Ioannis Vafeas, pianist Dimitris Miaris and bassist Greg Makamian. Byar’s strong melodies are confidently and expertly played by the artists. The album combines nostalgic ballads pulling at the heartstrings and uptempo compositions with drive and crispness.
‘Minor Change’ was recorded in 2016 with compositions by guitarist Ermis Michail and is another example of international collaboration between Cypriot and foreign musicians. The melodies are rounded, gentle, subtle and deceptively simple, with complex undertones if you listen carefully. Each song takes the listener through fascinating chord progressions cresting to crescendo, falling to diminuendo, passing from beautifully-played solo to solo, all led by Ermis Michail’s guitar. The lineup on the album is: Ermis Michail-guitar/composition; Luis Mora-drums; Marijn Van de ven-double bass; Andreas Panteli-piano; and Thomas Lumley-saxophone.
On the more angular side of instrumental jazz, guitarist Loizos Pafitis’ ‘The Underdog’ has just enough blues to make it sweet on the ear. His compositions are provocative with unusual harmonies that catch the imagination. Pafitis’ expressiveness is wide, ranging from mellow round tones to distortion. The solo guitar dominates, centering around melodic themes sometimes reminiscent of tightly-controlled chaos, shifting rapidly from dissonant moments to harmony. The core band members are from LP3, namely Loizos Pafitis-Electric guitar; Marios Menelaou-Fender Bass; Antreas Theodorou- Drums. The album features solo spots with Nikolas Melis-Fender Rhodes&Moog; Eleonora Rousou-flute and Elias Ioannou- trumpet.
‘World Without Words’ is an exciting release by Greece-Cyprus based trio TriCoolOre. The compositions have elements of rock, ethnic and world music and jazz-influenced guitar. TriCoolOre’s music combines different music styles and creates a unique soundscape as it balances between the global sound of jazz and ethnic Mediterranean sounds. Recorded in Athens, the album lineup is Nikos Doukas on bass guitar; Angelos Doukas on el. piano; Vasilis Vasiliou on drums, and guest Takis Barberis on el. guitar.
The albums are available online and at the artists’ concerts.