Jan 23 2016
I’m happy to be able to recommend K on top, the sophomore release from oudist Alekos Vretos. His intoxicating blend of jazz, Middle-East and Mediterranean musics can be pretty damn thrilling at times, and the innate tunefulness he brings to the table with his compositions and arrangements nicely splits the difference between high-speed action and a thick melodic embrace.
“Idea” is marked by the thrilling ascensions and descents on solos from pianist Sevdalis and Vretos on oud, made even more exciting by the tumbling rhythmic motion that serves as the song’s foundation. The Lebanese influenced tune “Lamma Bada Yatathana” keeps to a brisk pace, but it’s delivered with an appealing casualness that lets the melody breathe even when the percussive attack flirts with the breathless. “The Invisible Lover” behaves not much differently in that regard, but skews more toward a motion of dance.
And just to show that the oudists in Jazz don’t exist in isolation, Vretos performs a rendition of fellow oudist Anouar Brahem’s “Parfum de Gitane” In a nice turn of events, Vretos sheds the original’s drifting ambiance and instead lights a fire under the melody and sets it to riding a punctuated rhythmic flow.
The title-track gets things off on the wrong foot. A space-y contemporary fusion tune, it strips the ensemble of the qualities that make this recording crackle with so much electricity and reduces things to standard fare… not to mention, it seems out of place in comparison to the rest of the album tracks. But other than that initial misstep, this album is all kinds of cheerful enthusiasm and lyrical joy.
Your album personnel: Alekos Vretos (oud), Eleni Vassileiadi (qanun), Dimitris Sevdalis (piano, keyboards), Dimitris Christopoulos (double bass), Dimitris Klonis (drums) and guests: Vaggelis Paraskevaidis (vibraphone), Charis Lamprakis (nay) and Kostas Meretakis (percussion).
Released on Ankh Productions/Jadeo Music.
Jazz from the Athens, Greece scene.
Listen to more on the artist’s Soundcloud page.
Available at: Amazon
Also, be sure to check out Vretos’s debut album Mergin’, which you can read more about on this site (LINK). If K on top floats your boat, then there’s no reason in the world you shouldn’t immediately go out and scoop up this recording, too.