About KOPFKINO - Yorgos Dimitriadis Solo (on creative sources)
"A solo drum record that manages the rather daunting feat of sounding unique. Recorded live in Athens in 2016, "Kopfkino" (head cinema?) is a short display of fascinating techniques and arresting rhythmic invention.
The unnerving sounds that open the disc are the result of playing a cymbal with a mallet while manipulating a microphone on the same cymbal. It sounds computer-manipulated, but I don't think it is. Bass drum pumping adds a bit of undertow. There follows a section of "regular drumming" with rapid switching of sticks — mallet, stick and brush — in rapid tattoos and rim shots. The transition between the cymbal dance and this tighter/taughter playing is a study in patience and attention to detail.
The microphone has become another percussive instrument and Dimitriadis employs it well, conjuring sand and flapping metal in equal measure. Tension is built and maintained by a near-constant fidgety rhythm, which rises and falls in volume and insistence. Insects and other natural sounds are mimicked admirably, and the command of timbre, especially on the snare drum, is impressive and ear-bending.
This disc stands out from the pile of solo percussion offerings, and I'm definitely going to be looking into this man's playing more closely. (Check out his web site for a short video of his soloing)."
Jeph Jerman The Squid's Ear
About KOPFKINO (on creative sources)
Thessaloniki-born percussionist Yorgos Dimitriadis is one of the most prolific members of Berlin's Echtzeit network, where he has played with Frank Paul Schubert and Mike Majkowski (in the excellent Fabric Trio), Miles Perkin and Tom Arthurs (as Glue). Kopfkino (a German expression for "film in your head") is his first solo effort. Listening to it, you might be surprised this is a live recording with barely any electronics. Dimitriadis plays a very ordinary, small drum kit, in a conventional way, using sticks, mallets and brushes, but only with his right hand. In his left is a microphone which he uses to generate sounds reminiscent of large singing bowls - aural landscapes that rustle, fizzle and hiss. Dimitriadis alternates between introspective passages, in which his music displays wide spaces, and hectic video game sounds, where the music pants and moves forward in a jerky and twitchy manner. An unusual approach, he keeps his performance short and tense. Black Pus, BrianChippendale's drum project (but with the addition of electronics and voice) came to mind when I first listened to Kopfkino, In comparison, this album is more subtle and relaxed, less energetic. Some listeners might be skeptical when it comes to drum solos. This album could prove them wrong. Kopfkino is available on CD.
Martin Schray, Free Jazz Blog
About NOWHERE ONE GOES (JazzWerkstatt JW 204)
Booklet notes by Ken Waxman
Piano and drums duos have a long history in Jazz, dating back to when the piano’s melodic function and the drum’s rhythmic underpinning were often a nightclub’s preferred musical accompaniment. With percussiveness part of his style and conviction that a drummer could take on lyrical functions, Cecil Taylor turned this convention on its head, most memorably in 1988 Berlin, partnering drummers such as Han Bennink and Gunter “Baby” Sommer.
Also in Berlin, but generations removed from these conventions, are pianist Achim Kaufmann and drummer Yorgos Dimitriadis, protagonists of this fine session. Aachen-native Kaufmann and Thessaloniki-born Dimitriadis both arrived in the German capital early in this century after extensive musical experience in Amsterdam and Paris respectively. In the midst of exploring the limits of improvisation with many of the city’s residents, most notably in the pianist’s case with saxophonist Frank Gratkowski and bassist Wilbert de Joode, and the drummer’s with trumpeter Axel Dörner and saxophonist Floros Floridis, Kaufmann played with drummers like Tony Buck and Christian Lillinger and Dimitriadis with such keyboardists as Antonis Anissego and Andrea Parkins. The two first met at different gigs and expanding the dual concept have worked together since 2017. “By thinking of the duo as one instrument and sometimes reversing the instruments’ roles, our focus is to create our own amalgam of textures, resonances and electronic timbres by exploring and extending many new sound possibilities” explains Dimitriadis. Deciding to test these theories, the two booked a studio where the four selections which make up Nowhere One Goes were created. All come from one long session where, as the drummer says, “music was created in the moment.” The challenge he adds was “choosing what to bring to the foreground, as if using an auditory magnifying glass.”
The savvy listener can appreciate this focus when mysterious timbres are unexpectedly heard. For instance “Marbles”, the first track, finds piano and drum textures mutating from a chiming swing groove to intense form exploration. Surprisingly mottled glass balls weren’t used. Instead the caroming crackles which define the piece were created by piano string preparations set off by Kaufmann’s elbows and fingers on the keyboard and a contact mic picking up vibrations from Dimitriadis’ sticks and brushes. Meanwhile, the subsequent “Samaris” named for the fantastical graphic novel The Walls of Samaris, is sprightly and almost baroque, as the pianist simultaneously advances the song form with measured chording while coloring the theme with dynamic cadenzas. These tropes are further enhanced by the drummer’s slides and rumbles. “Ersilia”, named for Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, a book of poetic parables, bolsters the duo’s role reversal. Here the drummer’s unforced attack contrasts with the pianist’s pressurized percussive elaborations, albeit following an introductory expanse of gentle keyboard patterns and Dimitriadis’ rugged clattering, chugging, and buzzing rugged patterns, none of which though upset the subtle narrative. Finally the concluding “Infinitesimal”, influenced by ideas expressed by composer Éliane Radigue, also highlights unconventional modulations. Almost celestial, the shimmering, dissonant tones produced by cymbal strokes and buzzing piano strings take on woodwind-like agility and with electronic overtones gradually expand an exposition that balances light and dark textures.
Refuting the last track tile, the disc is anything but as small in conception. Instead Nowhere One Goes masterfully exposes the infinite sonic palette available from just keyboard and percussion. Like the other works of imagination referenced here, the CD also marks a defining statement from two cultivated and mature musical artists.
Ken Waxman Toronto (jazzword.com), September 2019
About MURMURS (Fabric Trio-NoBusiness Records)
While it would be an exaggeration to suggest that there was a house style for the adventurous Lithuanian No Business imprint, the European saxophone trio nonetheless forms a significant strand in its output. Recent winning entries in the format have included sets from the Anglo Polish Riverloam Trio, Thomas Borgmann's excellent US-German unit, and Evan Parker's longstanding trio. To these illustrious sessions must now be added the Fabric Trio featuring German reedman Frank Paul Schubert alongside Greek drummer Yorgos Dimitriadis and Australian bassist Mike Majkowski.
Schubert has appeared in the company of luminaries such as Alexander von Schlippenbach, Gunter Baby Sommer, Willi Kellers, John Edwards and Mark Sanders and, as may be deduced from that roll call, plies his wares at the more unfettered extreme of the free jazz spectrum. Here the reedman carries most of the narrative thrust, though within the confines of a focused group ethos engendered by Dimitriadis and Majkowski's continuously shifting commentary cum counterpoint. The rhythm team prove adept at non-linear momentum, all about imparting energy in a loose-limbed rumble, leaving each other space and prompting Schubert who deals in a syntax of split tones, airy susurrations and warbled overtones.
In a collectively birthed program of six pieces spread over the 51-minute limited edition LP, the emphasis is on the atmospheric slow burn. Restraint is one of the hallmarks of this trio, best experienced on the intriguing "Acorn/Tongue." Creaks, groans and rattles gradually cohere into forward motion, building a head of steam which never quite blows its top. Such sensitive interplay holds sway throughout, equally well evidenced on "The Salt Of Pleasure" where the saxophonist's breathy soprano intertwines with Majkowski's singing arco, accompanied by nervy unsettling percussion. As so often happens, the exception comes in the scene setting opener—"Jaw"—where a conversational exchange with Schubert's soprano pontificating over throbbing bass and rolling drums, crescendos in a fever pitch of foghorn bellows and emphatic percussion. It shows that whatever the weather, there is a lot more to come from the Fabric Trio yet.
John Sharpe All About Jazz
About RED DAHL SEXTET (FMR CD364-1014)
The closest thing to a multi-country super session, if such show biz-like tropes weren’t verboten in the more egalitarian Free Jazz Scene, the Red Dhal Sextet impressively tackles a set of instant compositions with the finesse needed to create high quality improvised music.
Recorded in Berlin, the sextet is pieced together from other bands. German alto saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert, Australian bassist Mike Majkowski and Greek drummer Yorgos Dimitriadis – all residents of the German capital – often play together in trio formation. Another Berliner by adoption, trombonist Hilary Jeffery is part of groups such as Zeitkratzer and plays in the octet lead by British tenor saxophonist Paul Dunmall, who is also featured here. Pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach has been part of countless European Jazz combos since the mid-1960s, most notably his own trio with saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Pal Lovens.
Technical finesse leads to improvisational smarts however, so each band member functions as part of a well-oiled machine throughout. Well-oiled doesn’t mean smooth however, and when Schubert. Dunmall and Jeffery operate at full tilt; agitated textures consistently speckle the interface. Self-effacing, Dimitriadis keeps the program flowing almost soundlessly with rhythm insinuation rather than bravado. More upfront, Majkowski aids in the six numbers’ chromatic motion. He and the drummer also have several moments of partition, when one or the other engages in dialogue(s) with one or the other of the saxophonists.
Thoroughly grounded in pre-and-post Free Jazz, von Schlippenbach knows when subtle Jazz-like comping is the perfect strategy to knit together disparate sound shards from the horns. At the same time his keyboard smacks, waving cadenzas and note substitutions sustain individual tunes’ shapes. One moment he can be clanking out a variant of straight-forward Free-Bop, the next enlivening the session with agitated, supra-tremolo chording that extend Cecil Taylor’s innovations. That’s most obvious on “Purple Dhal” as he mixes it up with the bassist’s floating slides, leaving it to Jeffrey’s plunger tones to create the connective ostinato. Meantime Schubert and Dunmall prolong the tumult with note sprinkles, timbral slurs and juddering bites.
Free formations arise as frequently from the trombonist’s narratives as those from the playing of the two reed men. With all the horns blowing at once, as on “Red Dhal”, the effect is of controlled chaos. Spurred by the pianist’s passing chords each saxist marks his territory with spurts of near-liquefied tone stuttering, intertwining for multiphonic accelerations, but with enough skill to reveal moderate timbres in saxophone-bass or saxophone-drums duos.
Attaining a distinctive crimson patch on “Scarlet Dhal”, the six finally bring their improvising ingredients to a boil, serving up spicy revelations from each man. Dimitriadis’ clatters are the first layer, surmounted by piano line sprinkles, Majkowski’s sharp jabs plus brays and lows from Jeffrey are then topped by moderated and melding reed textures. Reaching a sonic climax here, it’s easy to agree that the session has imparted a filling musical repast.
— Ken Waxman
About PENETRALIA (Creative Sources)
Despite its recent political and economic problems, apparently there still exists a hard-core of committed Greek free music improvisers. However like the proverbial canary in the coal mine warning of impending disaster, the members of GRIX, who are experienced timbre investigator, now all live in Berlin.
Recorded five years after its first CD, the trio spreads its music over one dozen selections with added momentum, having become even more familiar with what each can do. Multi-reedist Floros Floridis is the veteran here who has recorded in the past with the likes of drummer Günter Baby Sommer and vocalist Savina Yannatou as well as composing film sound tracks. Pianist Antonis Anissegos spends much time on the notated side of the divide, while drummer Yorgos Dimitriadis is part of bands with the likes of saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert and bassist Miles Perkins.
One of the key points about the GRIXers is that while their commitment is definitely exploratory, they never lose sight of the basic melodiousness of other musics. “Aria”, for instance, although based on a traditional (Greek?) song sounds for all its moderato buoyancy to be something that could have been played by the Benny Goodman trio, with Floridis’ clarinet and Anissegos’ piano in the BG-Teddy Wilson role. A spherical arrangement, it includes different false climaxes before reaching a satisfying finale. A minimalist dabbler rather than a Gene Krupa-like swaggerer, Dimitriadis’ off-beat slaps and measured clanks still express a swinging overlay on pieces such as “Ubuntu” in spite of – or maybe because of –foreshortened reed snarls.
Throughout much of the musical conflict engendered results between the neo-impressionism propelled by the pianist in a Bill Evans-like formation and the most atonal leanings of the drummer; with the reedist mediating between the two. To make a literary example, Anissegos could be in the tradition of Nikos Kazantzakis without the religious overtone and Dimitriadis like Yiannis Ritsos, but of course much less doctrinaire. Meanwhile like a wise arbitrator the saxophonist/clarinetist leans one way or the other, depending on the situation. On pieces such as “Drifting Sand”, composed by Floridis and “Penetralia”, composed by Anissegos, basic balladic framework is established. The later defines romanticism in a unique fashion as the key-clinking chromatic theme intersects with two timbres double tongued from Floridis’ soprano. Conversely the texture of “Drifting Sand” is deep and warm enough to be a film soundtrack with mid-range and higher keyboard cadenzas unrolling alongside clarinet sighs. Billowing piano tones and precision pointed clarinet trills suggest an uneasy bed-time lullaby on “Simple Things”, another Floridis line.
Free Jazz gets its due on the Floridis-composed “What Tradition” and Dimitriadis’ “Lingual Gyrus”. As opaque as it is obtuse, the former is a face-off between shrilling clarinet and drum smashes with Anissegos contributing stacked glissandi until each musicians is as attuned to the theme as he is committed to improvisation. The latter melds bass clarinet tongue slaps and manually grazed drum beats that while remaining in the 21st century resolves itself as an up-to-date swing number.
If Penetralia has a drawback, it’s that none of the compositions extend past the six minute mark, with the majority much briefer. The 12 selections are superlative at expressing the trio’s compositional and performing talents. But imagine what they could come up with more generous room to stretch out.
About SWEET,SOUR,SHARP & SOFT (JazzWerkstatt JW 041)
Motivated and resourceful, saxophonist Floros Floridis is arguably Greece’s most accomplished improvising musician. A world traveler, he’s best known in the jazz world for his collaborations with like-minded experimental musicians, most notably the late Wuppertal-based bassist Peter Kowald and drummer Günter “Baby” Sommer of Dresden. At the same time Thessaloniki-based Floridis – who with pianist Sakis Papadimitriou recorded Greece’s first out-and-out Free Jazz session in 1979 – has always made a point of encouraging other Hellenic players along the path to Free Music. “Free Improvisation is my favorite method of creating music,” he says. “It’s the one I respect and believe in the most.”
This CD from Grix, his new trio, is a notable example of this philosophy. Over the course of one dozen instant compositions, the 55-year-old veteran, who plays alto saxophone, bass and Bb clarinets here, hooks up with two prodigiously talented younger performers from his home town, in a session recorded there.
Pianist Antonis Anissegos (born 1970) and drummer Yiorgos Dimitriadis (born 1964), now both live in Berlin, where Floridis is also a frequent visitor. After extensive academic studies throughout Europe, the well-traveled Anissego composes and performs orchestral, chamber and theatre compositions throughout Europe and in Asia. Still, as his playing on this disc demonstrates, he also posses a fine jazz touch and sensibility.
Dimitriadis moved from rock music to studies in Boston with master jazz drummers Alan Dawson and Bob Moses, and then was exposed to Free Music through Floridis-organized gigs in Thessaloniki. During a decade in Paris, the drummer played in French jazz groups, and latterly gigs with legendary American bassist Sirone as well as with Grix. On this disk, Dimitriadis’ powerful beat is impressively balanced by his rhythmic flourishes and quicksilver tempo changes.
All the tunes on Sweet, Sour, Sharp & Soft involve sonic cross-pollination, which means that each trio member contributes his fair share to the success of the CD.
To take one example, a track such as “Sarsoumades” matches Anissego’s thick piano chording with growling, irregularly vibrated split tones from Floridis, plus sharp cracks and doubled pops from Dimitriadis’ toms and snare. As the reedist erupts into harsh staccato cries, the pianist’s high-velocity, contrasting dynamics almost levitate the keyboard, while the drummer steadies the presentation with rim shots and rebounds.
Similarly, Anissegos’ internal string-stopping and plucking evolve in triple counterpoint with sul tasto bass lines and diaphragm-vibrated clarinet squeals on “Melekouni”. Continuing to improvise in the chalumeau register, Floridis’ key percussion and tongue slaps eventually become rougher and his split tones more detached, although he’s perfectly accompanied by irregular wood-block and gamelan-like pulses from the percussionist.
Jokingly Floridis explains that “Grix” doesn’t really represent anything in particular. However the “Gr” does reference “Greece” – and note that every tune title is replicated in Greek characters as well as regular script. Meanwhile the “ix” gives Grix a gritty contemporary look. Certainly single-minded toughness is one of the musical qualities exhibited on this CD, along with extrasensory mutual interaction and profound technical skill.
In fact, although taken together the adjectives may suggest contradictions; alternatively “sweet, sour, sharp and soft” is how these extraordinary improvisers play on this notable and highly original date.
Ken Waxman (www.jazzword.com) Toronto July 2008