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Stassinopoulos, Chris, and Friends: Light in the Dark

This set of 8 live recordings by the leading Greek jazz-rock pioneer sees him sharing the stage with legends such as David Cross and Hugh Hopper as well as several artists from the Greek progressive and avant-garde jazz and rock movements. Chris plays drums, piano and other keyboards and is joined by King Crimson violinist David Cross on the first track, a vibrant and hedonistic affair where Cross's searing violin competes with a wild guitar and Chris's slashing keys. "Universal Harmony" is only slightly less frenetic, with a softer sax from David Foster the dominant feature over Chris's complicated drumming. Organ and keyboards join in for a more relaxed middle sequence from which discordance emerges before falling back to a melodic and peaceful exit.

The longest track, "Trip through the universal light" is up next, commencing with a mellow guitar from Barry Finnerty bounced along by Chris's jaunty rhythm and an off-beat organ undertone. Overall, a quite languid affair with a series of liquid guitar solos from Barry Finnerty acting as a counterpoint to the harsher organ semitones. The rhythmic structure is deliberately disintegrated toward the end to a shambling sequence before Chris bites in with a crisp drum beat to take us out with Finnerty on a climactic flourish. In "Greece meets India", a suggestion of an Eastern mode plays around the edges of what is predominantly a piano and guitar duet between Chris and Joe Berger. "Space Hymn" on the other hand is pure keyboards. A digital keyboard provides the basic texture while Alekos Karakandas solos on a burbling synth, reminding me occasionally of early Mahavishnu Orchestra.

From here on the tracks are live recordings from clubs and theatres around Athens. David Cross and Hugh Hopper join Chris on "Flight of the Condor". Cross's unmistakeable violin sound dominates this live track as it plays off the dissonant organ chords and vibrant synth flourishes. Vocal squeals and shouts accompany the piece as it dissolves into a chaotic abstract ending, rather clumsily cut off by the disk's engineer. "Space Hymn 2" trades guitar for synth in a rather harsh and angular work. Overall its not easy on the ear but is saved by an impressive drum solo from Stassinopoulos. The final track is an intricate work with Stelios Frederikos entwining his sustained guitar with Chris' percussive keyboard and organ to produce an undulating tempo with fluttering guitar highlights, delightfully embellished by contrapuntal scat singing from the pair.

Sonically the bass is rather low in the mix on this album, somewhat defeating Hopper's inclusion, even on the live tracks and the drums are a little lifeless, but otherwise this is a fair part-live showcase for Stassinopoulos' skills as a band leader and composer.

Track Listing
1. Ancient civilisation
2. Universal harmony
3. Trip through the universal light
4. Greece meets India
5. Space hymn
6. Flight of the condor
7. FA Blues (space hymn 2)
8. Cosmic

Added: June 3rd 2009
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1864
Language: english

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