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"LETHE" SLAMCD 333 Barcode 5028386712022
Nikolas Skordas, sop & tenor saxes, tarogato, traditional flutes.
George Haslam, tarogato, alto sax, zither.
With guest Sophia Koroxenou, voice tracks 8 & 10.
Music has the strength to act upon the soul, re-establishing its innocence and long forgotten wisdom …
"Lethe"- oblivion in our lives, like music, might be the proper preparation for the Exodus. (Nikolas Skordas)
"This album is a must for any jazz lover. Absolutely recommendable!" … jazz-fun.de
"George Haslam … is a great improvisor, probably one of the greatest in the history of jazz." Ken Cheetham, Jazz Views.
One of the benefits of running a CD label has been the opportunities to meet and sometimes work with interesting musicians – for me this has included Stefano Pastor, Szilard Mezei, Mal Waldron, Borah Bergman, the Greek trio Outward Bound, many friends in Argentina and, more recently Steve Cohn and eminent Greek composer and reedsman Nikolas Skordas. Nikolas recorded 2 previous CDs on SLAM, duos with Alex Maguire and Alexandros Aivaliotis.
I went to visit him in Thessaloniki, December 2018 where we played a few gigs had a workshop and also in Athens. I took my tarogato, also various sax mouthpieces and zither, ( It was my first outing with zither, I have experimented with sounds, I like the natural acoustic feeling) and he played soprano and tenor saxes and various ethnic flutes, bagpipes etc…
We recorded a session in Shellac Recording Studios Thessaloniki, with vocalist and byzantine psalt singer, Sophia Koroxenou, who had made the tour possible and also joined us surprisingly on the last minute in the studio .
The music of course is improvised.
Also available through all digital outlets, including:
Amazon MP3: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lethe-Nikolas-Skordas-George-Haslam/dp/B07VGLQGWQ
SLAMCD 333 ‘LETHE’
Track 1 RIVER OF HADES 14:40 GBACW1801117
Track 2 THE WINDOWS 6:43 GBACW1801118
Track 3 CONVERSATION WITH BIRDS 4:50 GBACW1801119
Track 4 SPIRITUAL FALL 7:02 GBACW1801120
Track 5 LIFE IN WRONG WAY 5:32 GBACW1801121
Track 6 NOSTOS 9:40 GBACW1801122
Track 7 NO PLANS 3:49 GBACW1801123
Track 8 ETERNAL DREAMS 7:38 GBACW1801124
Track 9 PRAYING IN DESERT 7:07 GBACW1801125
Track 10 LETHE 1:18 GBACW1801126
I have, unusually, included the track names as I think that they do allude to the general meaning of the complete piece. In classical Greek, Lethe (Ëçèç) means ‘forgetfulness’ and is related to the Greek word for ‘truth’, i.e. ‘un-forgetfulness’. The River Lethe from Greek Mythology has often appeared in Western culture since those early times. Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (1308-1320) refers to the stream of Lethe as ‘flowing to the centre of the earth from its surface’, while almost five centuries later John Keats wrote ‘No, no! Go not to Lethe’ as the opening line of his Ode on Melancholy. Lord Byron told us that ‘Thetis baptized her mortal son in Styx; A mortal mother would on Lethe fix.’ (Don Juan: 1819-1824). Not to be outdone, the French joined the fray in the poem of Baudelaire, Le Spleen de Paris, (1869): ‘He failed to warm this dazed cadaver in whose veins, Flows the green water of Lethe in place of blood’.
George Haslam is a tour de force on baritone, but relinquishes it here in favour of the alto. It makes no difference to his power, musically, as he has been around the avant-garde and improvisational for fifty something years. He is a great improvisor, probably one of the greatest in the history of jazz.
His duets here with Nikolas Skordas are based entirely on free improvisation and the duo are occasionally bolstered by the freely improvisational vocals of Skordas’ wife, Sophia Koroxenou. Skordas is a thoroughly studied jazz musician, whereas Haslam is essentially self-taught. At the same time, Skordas says that he is a performer and composer and that his music is a continuous, spiritual quest. That will suit both these artists and they won’t find much more spiritual than this heady album that is much brighter and cheerful than its references might suggest.
Reviewed by Ken Cheetham https://www.jazzviews.net/george-haslam--nikolas-skordas---lethe---lambdaetathetaeta.html
Haslam teams with Nikolas Skordas, who plays soprano sax, traditional flutes and bagpipe along with guest Sophia Koroxenou who adds voice and bells to a series of tracks. Most of the pieces are duets of reeds, with puffy "Conversation with Birds" angular "Spiritual Fall" and screechy "River of Hades" and "Live in Wrong Way" before some bells add an atmosphere of a Greek village on "Lethe" and Praying In Desert" Korixeunou’s voice is ethereal as she blends in with the thick reeds of "Eternal Dreams" as she takes you to mountains where shepherds tend to their island flocks.
George Harris http://www.jazzweekly.com/2019/09/slam-and-haslamgeorge-haslam-nikolas-skordas-lethe-george-haslam-steve-cohn-steve-kershaw-ancient-and-modern/
GEORGE HASLAM / NIKOLAS SKORDAS - Lethe-Ahoh (Slam 333; UK) Featuring George Haslam on alto sax, taragato & zither and Nikolas Skordas on soprano sax, taragato, flutes & bagpipe plus Sophia Koroxenou on voice & bells (3 tracks). This is the second disc from Greek reeds player Nikolas Skordas to be released on the Slam label after another duo with Alex Maguire. This disc was recorded in at Shellac studio in Thessaloniki, Greece in December of 2018. Both Mr. Haslam and Mr. Skordas play a taragoto, an easter European, larger than a regular clarinet-like instrument. UK saxist & Slam label head, George Haslam, keeps busy playing with selective musicians from the UK, South America, Italy and now Greece, creating an international bond with creative musicians from around the world.
Although, most of the instruments here are reeds, this disc begins with a zither which adds an aura of mystery, with added specs of of soft hand percussion. I actually own and play an old dusty zither, which sounds like someone playing inside of the piano while Mr. Skordas plays some eerie wooden flute. The overall sound is filled with spaciousness and suspense, the sound of the zither and taragato sounds perfect together like ancient partners from related cultures. By the second piece, Mr. Skordas switches to soprano sax while Mr. Haslam plays alto. There is something truly lovely going on here as both reeds work so well together, swirling around one another like graceful birds in flight, sailing on the wind, being held aloft by the tides underneath. The overall vibe here is mostly mesmerizing, an enchanting dreamworld that is exotic and enticing. This is a true blend of different cultures, so well integrated into a delicious stew. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Il sassofonista greco Nikolas Skordas ormai di casa presso la Slam Records, incontra questa volta
George Haslam, direttore della casa discografica inglese. Skordas suona il sax soprano, il tarogato, dei flauti tradizionali e la cornamusa. Haslam è al tarogato, al sax alto ed alla cetra da tavolo. Come ospite speciale la cantante Sophia Koroxenou, moglie di Skordas. I due si incontrano su un terreno completamente improvvisato, portando delle esperiene musicali diverse, fra l’altro qui Haslam rinuncia al sax baritono, che è il suo principale strumento. La musica evoca spazi e libertà insieme ad una assoluta empatia sul filo di melodie inventate in estemporanea. C’è passione in quello che presentano, brani piuttosto lunghi in cui si trova sempre un motivo di dialogo grazie anche alla varietà degli strumenti usati. Nel titolo che dà il titolo al disco, Lethe – Ληθη Skordas è alla cornamusa e si ascolta la voce di Sophia Koroxenou, è un brano fortemente evocativo in cui libera improvvisazione e musica popolare greca trovano un punto di incontro. Molto interessante Praying In Desert, che evoca gli spazi infiniti ed i silenzi del deserto. È un disco ricco di suggestioni, che va ascoltato lasciandosi trasportare dai paesaggi sonori del duo. Vittorio lo Conte, http://www.musiczoom.it/?p=30870#.XXf97DZKi1u
Greek saxophonist Nikolas Skordas now at home at Slam Records, meets this time George Haslam, director of the English record company. Skordas plays the soprano sax, the tarogato, the traditional flutes and the bagpipe. Haslam is at the tarogato, alto sax and table zither. As a special guest the singer Sophia Koroxenou, wife of Skordas. The two meet on completely improvised ground, bringing different musical experiences, among other things, here Haslam renounces the baritone sax, which is his main instrument. The music evokes spaces and freedom together with an absolute empathy on the thread of melodies invented in extemporaneous. There is passion in what they present, rather long passages in which there is always a reason for dialogue thanks to the variety of the instruments used. In the title that gives the title to the disc, Lethe - Ληθη Skordas is the bagpipe and the voice of Sophia Koroxenou is listened to, it is a strongly evocative piece in which free improvisation and Greek popular music find a meeting point. Very interesting Praying In Desert, which evokes the infinite spaces and the silences of the desert. It is a record full of suggestions, which must be listened to by letting yourself be carried away by the duo's soundscapes.
Many JJ readers will know of George Haslam from his Slam label and his past associations with leading British improvisers such as Paul Rutherford, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill and Paul Hession, and collaborations with Mal Waldron, Arturo Sandoval and Charlie Mariano. He has also played extensively throughout South America and Europe and here he is partnered by leading Greek saxophonist Nikolas Skordas,
The music may well be outside of the experience of many readers with its leaning towards folk elements and experimentation, but much of it is firmly fixed in the jazz tradition which extends the explorations of sound, patterns and textures. There are tracks which are overtly more folk-orientated, using instrumentation not usually associated with jazz – the zither and tárogató, a small reeded Eastern European instrument, used in the past by Charles Lloyd and Peter Brötzmann. These serve to evoke a spiritual, often contemplative and meditative feel that is at times complemented by bells and the voice of Sophia Koroxenou, giving a denser backcloth on which the improvisation lies.
There are passages of real beauty and intensity and a less worldly reviewer might have seen greater significance in the sudden glimpse of the green-domed mosque as the train on which I journeyed whilst listening passed through Willesden en route to Marylebone.
The passages that stood out tended to be those with Skordas’s soprano and Haslam’s alto played in tandem, creating patterns around each other, on The Windows, Conversations With Birds (Haslam on tárogató) and Spiritual Fall – moments of mellow resonance and purity of sound, with blues-tinged inflections – Haslam is never far away from his mainstream roots. The fragmentation of Life In Wrong Way is resolved as their own musical conversation develops, as is the initial dissonance on No Plans.
I found the introduction of a bagpipe on the title track less attractive, and although it soars effectively above the density of voice and zither, the wider range of the more melodic soprano saxophone gives a more potent use of space.
Matthew Wright https://jazzjournal.co.uk/2019/08/14/george-haslam-nikolas-skordas-lethe/
Both musicians lose themselves in a spiritual search. Skordas, who is a well-trained musician, and Haslam - almost completely self-taught - have found a common musical language that does not end musical visions we have not yet heard. It even seems that their free, spiritual flight knows no bounds. In her music, full of beautiful phrases and musical images, one can forget everything and discover what is intangible but true.
This album is a must for any jazz lover. Absolutely recommendable!
Jazz-Fun, Germany. https://www.jazz-fun.de/george-haslam-nikolas-skordas-lethe.html?fbclid=IwAR2NJ-8c6FyOjVVMnRQJ5TpDXTctR86ux7nejivEoynD3EyGBmaX7AoIQbc