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Tassos Spiliotopoulos

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19/09/0006 Jack Massarik, Evening Standard

Vortex Jazz Club 18/9/06

Greek fire from a guitar

Europe has a teeming underworld of ambitious young players bursting to break into the A-list. The Vortex, which catches many of then early, last night welcomed a Greek guitarist, a French tenorist and a drum-and-bass from both sides of the Middle-East divide. Their intelligent interplay put their politicians to shame.

The leader was a tall, slim plectrist from Athens with the brooding features of actor Jeff Goldnlum and the expressive elongated fingers of an Egon Schiele drawing. Using a standard semi-acoustic Ibanez, an unmodified Mesa Boogie amp and (extra bonus points) no footpedals at all, Tassos Spiliotopoulos developed his melodic originals into a lucid flow of elegant ideas.

He recently worked in the US and heard their new breed of guitarists including Kurt Rosenwinkel and Ben Monder, at first hand. Like them he plays with no obvious stylistic debt, but traces of the three famous Johns did occasionally appear. Certain oblique, wide-interval chords suggested John Mc Laughlin, at other times the rougher-edged tone of John Scofield and orderly phrasing of John Ambercrombie.

Robin Fincker, another artist difficult to categorise, played tenor sax with an airy freedom somewhere between Warne Marsh and Wayne Shorter, plus the precise high-register control of a Mark Turner. Grooving behind him were Israeli Yaron Stavi and Palestinian drummer Asaf Sirkis, saxman-satirist Gilad Atzmonís favourite rhythm section. Reportedly Gilad is now traveling as Artie Fishel and the Promised Band. They play A Night in Tunisia, but renamed A Knight into Nietzsche. Naturally.


 

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