Jun 6 2014
If a musician references guitarist Bill Frisell in a song title, it’s going to catch my attention. Guitarist Christos Anestopoulos does it. Twice. His 2014 release Wish You Could Stay features the tracks “Friselland” and “More Friselland,” and both land dead center of that jazz-folk-Americana hybrid that marks Frisell’s singular sound. It’s a sound that possesses an uneasy tunefulness, a curious warmth, and an abounding beauty. Anestopoulos channels it perfectly, and to a remarkable degree, actually.
But what makes it so remarkable is that he brings his own voice to it. This album isn’t a display of Frisell mimicry. Anestopoulos infuses the music with influences of his native Greece, adding oud, lyra and ntaouli to his Frisell-inspired pieces… a strategy that not only personalizes the music to Anestopoulos’s vision, but also brings out elements not necessarily apparent in the source of his inspiration.
Anestopoulos displays a talent with the guitar looping, and sees him weaving his own guitar lines around one another while adding other electronics and effects to the mix. There are a few moments that harken back to Frisell’s solo masterpiece, Ghost Town.
The influence of Frisell is evident in other tracks, as well. “Red Roses” and “Staffy’s Song” feature saxophone and trombone accompaniment, providing a fullness to the razor’s edge of Anestopoulos’s electric guitar… a sound reminiscent of Frisell’s 2008 release History, Mystery.
Several tracks never touch upon Frisell themes. The contemporary fusion of “Once Upon a Time” strikes up a fun, danceable groove, and provides Anestopoulos the opportunity for some fiery solos. Of equal importance, nothing about these songs threatens to crack the album’s cohesion… an appealing aspect of this recording, that the various displays of differentiation provide something of value to the album as a whole. “Wish You Could Stay” digs in more with some jazz-rock fusion, the tempo rising along with the temperature off electric guitar. And, again, it provides a nice contrast to the calmer, folk music tunes.
The album ends with the enchanting “Perfect No Perfect,” a Frisellian type of folk tune, but voiced by Anestopoulos with the folk music of his own roots, and of his own creative vision.
At times, a very captivating album, and as a Frisell fan, I found it terribly fun.
Your album personnel: Christos Anestopoulos (electric guitars, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, percussion, loops) and guests: David Lynch (tenor & soprano sax), George Daravelis (alto & tenor sax), George Douris (violin), Giannis Panagiotopoulos (lyra, oud), Alexandros Rouvas (trombone), Konstantinos Spiratos (percussion, ntaouli), Alexis Macheras (electric bass), Vasilis Stefanopoulos (contrabass), Makis Feggoulis (drums), and Panagiotis Kostopoulos (drums).
This album is Self-Produced.
Jazz from the Patras, Greece scene.
Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.