COMPOSERS: Bill Evans,Fripp,Giles,Lake,MacDonald,Miles Davis,Sinfield,Vassilakis
ALBUM TITLE: Dimitrios Vassilakis
PERFORMER: Dimitrios Vassilakis, David Liebman, Andy Sheppard (ss, ts), Marc Johnson (b), Ralph Peterson (d, t), Jamey Haddad (d, perc), Theodosii Spassov (kaval), Emmanuel Saridakis (p, hammond org), George Contrafouris (p)
CATALOGUE NO: CCD 79776
I first encountered the Greek myth of the Labyrinth and Theseus’s slaying of the Minotaur at the age of seven, and it has stayed with me because it is a tale in which triumph and tragedy seem to be held in equal balance. In 1973 I wrote and recorded my own album on the same subject and with the same title, Labyrinth, so I was intrigued to know what a Greek musician would do with it today.
Vassilakis is an excellent saxophonist and a fine composer, and seven of the nine compositions are his own. The remaining two, ‘Epitaph’ by Fripp, MacDonald, Lake, Giles and Sinfield, and ‘Blue in Green’ by Miles Davis and Bill Evans, are not directly connected to the myth but contribute to the atmosphere.
All of the musicians are superlative soloists, and it was a touch of genius to include Spassov’s kaval, which is a traditional Bulgarian wooden flute with a husky and appealing human sound. Ralph Peterson on drums and trumpet is quite a find and he and Spassov are great presences on the urgent and powerfully rhythmic title track.
‘Ariadne’s Thread’ has evocative suspended chords and fluctuating tempi. In the booklet notes David Liebman comments, ‘It may be getting to the point now where it is obvious that jazz is truly an international language,’ and he goes on to cite this album as proof of that. Infinite grace, poetry and passion inform this labyrinthine music.