Recommended: Valia Calda – “Valia Calda EP”


Valia Calda - "Valia Calda"An absolutely riveting debut EP from the Valia Calda quintet, blending modern post-bop, Greek traditional, free improv and Balkan music.  Electronics, Cretan lute, Cretan lyra, and tsambuna fit right in with traditional jazz instruments.  Without missing a beat, the music goes from a late-night jazz club cool to an ambling post-bop to a Frisellian eeriness to Mediterranean seaside ease.

Though arranged from two Epirus folk tunes, “Epirus Suite” does more to spotlight the quintet’s strengths in modern post-bop expressions, especially those that hit upon areas that Bill Frisell and Brian Blade Fellowship mark as their respective territories.  It’s a massively arresting opening track, effortlessly shifting gears from a heart-on-the-sleeve melodicism to a hard-charging lyricism.  The quintet display a real talent for the right turn of phrase at just the right time.  Guitarist Nikos Ziarkas sets a captivating tone early, while trumpeter Sam Warner‘s fiery solo lifts the song up in flight.

Second track “Neda” comes right out with a dancing motion atop a driving tempo.  Where Rob Milne‘s bass clarinet cast shadows on the previous track, here he’s all about the sunlight with his flute.  On guitar, Nikos Ziarkas mirrors the darting motion set into place by Milne, while also providing evidence that his guitar is more than just a tool for ambiance and effects.

“Ornette in Space” opens with a smokey presence, a cool blue tone and a simmering tempo.  Thodoris Ziarkas and Gaspar Sena set the scene and move it at will on bass and drums, while the bright tone of Warner’s trumpet contrasts nicely with the prevailing moodiness.  That moodiness eventually gives ground to a volatility that grows increasingly out of control.

Final track “Nocturne” digs deep into the traditional while also accentuating the band’s experimental nature.  An arrangement and lyrics of a Karpathos folk tune is crosshatched with guitar effects and a slow boil post-bop.

All kinds of cool, and a very promising start to their recording career.

Your album personnel:  Rob Milne (bass clarinet, flute), Sam Warner (trumpet), Nikos Ziarkas (guitar, electronics, Cretan lute), Thodoris Ziarkas (double bass, cretan lyra, tsambuna), Gaspar Sena (drums) and guests (on “Nocturne”): Tom Green (trombone), Saul (vocals), Alexandros Miaris (analog synths) and Theodoros ‘‘Siozos’’ Ziarkas (voice).

This album is Self-Produced.

Jazz from the London scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Bandcamp | Amazon