Showing that the SLAM label isn’t just a venue for improv, this recording brings a set of miniatures for a quartet with a structure that is neither classical nor jazz. Each piece runs for around 4 to 5 minutes, but the musical ideas and their development for each piece feel like they constitute a suite that has been shrunk to fit the limited timescale.
The CD title is the name of an island in the Aegean. Amorgos is the most eastern of the Greek Cyclades islands (with a population of a few thousand) and this lends some of the vibe to the set – both in terms of the musical palette used and the mood of the pieces. Not only that, but the island itself contributes to the pieces, with recordings of lapping water, rustling grasses and blustering wind all featuring in the edits (and complementing the playing of the instruments).
Reviewed by Chris Baber https://www.jazzviews.net/ada-pitsou---amorgos.html
Amorgos isn’t a jazz album, but it’s on a label run by a jazz and free improv musician, George Haslam, with an ear for intriguing world music. Amorgos is one of the most eastern Greek islands in the South Aegean Sea. Here, Ada Pitsou composes her music, and its landscapes and moods inspired this suite of 10 instrumental pieces – impressions of places she knows and loves. Pitsou studied in the USA, in Vermont and at Boston’s New England Conservatory. Since 2003 she has released eight CDs, which feature her compositions, lyrics and singing.
Although there are no vocals on this album, there’s a plangent ethos. All compositions are by Pitsou, and the music is mostly quite gentle and evocative. As one reviewer noted, there’s an ECM feel, cool and European, with influences from the less radical end of 20th century classical composition. The opening track, Mouros, for solo piano, features environmental sounds of dripping and splashing water. The gentle, melancholic Giasemi juxtaposes sounds of howling wind against strings and drums. Hora is livelier, more dance-like, with scurrying percussion, while Stroubos features resonant, singing cello; Potamos is performed by piano and drums. The results are attractive – more demanding than New Age, but not individual enough to quite pull me in. More information on the composer can be found at adapitsou.com.
Andy Hamilton Jazz Journal February 2019
In a more contemporary setting and with a reduced ensemble, Athens-based composer/ vocalist Ada Pitsou has created a suite of ten miniatures reflecting the most eastern Greek island in the South Aegean Sea with Amorgos (SLAM 592 slamproductions.net), interpreted by handpicked musicians: violinist Dionisis Vervitsiotis, cellist Angelos Liakakis, pianist Thodoros Kotepanos and drummer Niklos Sidirokastritis. Chief distinction is how well pre-recorded sounds of lapping waves, running water and breezy and blustery winds are adapted to sync with the instrumentalists’ expositions. However once this is accomplished, Pitsou’s compositions don’t take much advan-tage of the broad textures that could be sourced from unconventional string settings. More interested in mood and colouring than ambulation, unlike Mailloux’s re-orchestrations, here sprightly interchanges and austere harmonies are used for scene-setting rather than timbral advancement. There are a few instances where the mould is broken briefly, as on Yassemi, where drumming patterns interrupt a romantic string exposition; or on Seladi, where tempo-changing iterations cycle through percussive piano clips, warm violin and cello harmonies and inflated wind whooshes. But these attempts aren’t extended to full innovative dissonance or tried elsewhere. Overall, despite the CD’s somewhat unusual instrumentation, only simple musical goals are aimed for; and they are just as easily attained.
String groups have been utilized for fine chamber music since the 18th century. In the 21st century however, coupling the expected with output from other sources – mostly improvised creations – produces even more memorable results.
Ken Waxman, The WholeNote March 2019.
Amorgos, che è anche il titolo del disco, è una delle isole dell’Egeo meridionale. Qui vive la composistrice greca Ada Pitsou, che ha studiato però in USA, al Bennington College in Vermont al New England Conservatory di Boston. Il paesaggio dell’isola, i suoi umori, i venti, i colori, la ispirano per una musica di cui ha scritto le partiture, eseguita da Angelos Liakakis al violoncello,
Nikos Sidirokastritis batteria, Thodoros Kotepanos piano e Dionisis Vervitsiotis al violino. Lei è una musicista matura, che ha già inciso da leader e che continua in questo disco con una via intrapresa da tempo, seguendo quell’ispirazione che gli viene dai paesaggi mediterranei. Sono composizioni che ispirano gli esecutori e che coinvolgono gli ascoltatori. Si parte con Mouros per piano solo e rumori che imitano il rumore delle onde. Gli archi aggiungono accenti affascinanti alla musica, esecutori di melodie ispirate, a loro si aggiunge il pianoforte ed i sottili colori che vengono sparsi dal batterista. È una musica di stampo europeo, che ricorda gli autori classici che incidono per la ECM, con delle idee originali della compositrice, che sa pescare dall’ampio patrimonio di musiche a disposizione, da quelle della sua patria ai compositori classici del Novecento. Su Stroubos il violoncello si esprime con abbandono e passione,
supportato dagli altri musicisti, subito dopo si chiude con Potamos, eseguito dal pianoforte e dalla batteria. Belle melodie, seducenti, la musica del disco è un inno ai colori del Mediterraneo e dei suoi paesaggi più suggestivi.
Vittorio Lo Conte http://www.musiczoom.it/?p=30034#.XB_9K_n7Tct
Amorgos, which is also the title of the disc, is one of the islands of the southern Aegean. Here lives the Greek composer Ada Pitsou, who studied however in the USA, at Bennington College in Vermont at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The landscape of the island, its moods, winds, colors, inspire it for a music of which he wrote the scores, performed by Angelos Liakakis on cello,
Nikos Sidirokastritis drums, Thodoros Kotepanos piano and Dionisis Vervitsiotis on violin. She is a mature musician, who has already recorded a leading role and who continues on this record with a path that has been undertaken for some time, following the inspiration that comes from Mediterranean landscapes. They are compositions that inspire performers and involve listeners. It starts with Mouros for solo piano and noises that mimic the sound of the waves. The strings add fascinating accents to the music, performers of inspired melodies, to them is added to the piano and the subtle colors that are spread by the drummer. It is a European-style music, reminiscent of the classical authors that affect the ECM, with original ideas of the composer, who knows how to fish from the wide range of music available, from those of her homeland to the classical composers of the twentieth century. On Stroubos the cello expresses itself with abandon and passion,
supported by the other musicians, immediately after it closes with Potamos, performed by the piano and the drums. Beautiful melodies, seductive, the music of the album is a hymn to the colors of the Mediterranean and its most evocative landscapes.
AMORGOS [Slam 592] is not a jazz CD but a recording of 12 compositions by ADA PITSOU played by a quartet [piano/violin/cello/drums] with sounds of nature [wind, water, thunder] as a component of the composition/music. The music is engaging and unpretentious and suggests a fragility and lightness. Amorgos indeed.