SEV Trio: Far From Close

Greek guitarist, for a while in London, now based in Stockholm, leads fusion trio in a finely crafted set of reflective originals

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The debut album from the Greek jazz trio (its moniker an acronym of the members’ surname initials) comprises eight original compositions recorded using internet file exchanges while working from home locations hundreds of miles apart.

Born in Athens, guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos worked on the London jazz scene before moving to his current Stockholm base. He has toured Europe, America and Asia, performing with artists such as Kenny Wheeler, Gary Husband, Dimitri Vassilakis and John Etheridge. Bassist Michalis Evdemon, another Athenian, has also toured internationally, working with Yiannis Papadopoulos, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, MILO Z and Kristjan Randulu, among others. Influenced by such diverse tub-thumpers as John Bonham, Buddy Rich, Ian Paice and Joe Morello, drummer Panis Vassilopoulos has appeared with Guthrie Govan and Michael Urbaniak.

Unlike many modern releases, Far From Close eschews the fad of using every last byte of CD capacity, which can result in overlong, often tedious offerings. Coming in at a by-today’s-standards modest running time of 39 minutes, the album’s brief, concise track lengths work to its advantage, delivering improvisational tunes in neat accessible packages rather than extended workouts which overstay their welcome.

The opening Clarity offers soft, ethereal guitar lines against a shuffling drum rhythm with underpinning bass, then moves to a brighter mood which sees more nimble work from Evdemon. Second Chance sees some great sparring between guitar and bass, the former then emerging in frenetic form while Vassilopoulos musters at the close.

Seven Wishes begins with a more structured outline before returning to mellow improv as the trio creates a satisfying, laid-back soundscape; The Search Within slows things to a mood of serene stillness, while Fast Peter offers cascading guitar notes against alternately pulsing and walking bass, the drums stepping forward for an energetic solo. Finally, the closing The Blues has an unmistakable Delta structure which, having established the form at the outset, then takes off into a tasteful, soaring guitar improvisation followed by a funky bass solo, all underscored by steady drum fills. It’s the top track here.
 
To conclude, this is a finely crafted jazz-fusion set whose mood is decidedly dreamy and other-worldly, never raucous, deluging the listener with myriad minor chords and well-balanced solo turns applied with a light touch. There could be more variety, but given the album’s aforementioned accessibility that’s a small beef: popular jazz and improv fans should have no problem here.

Discography
Clarity; Second Chance; Feral Dance; Seven Wishes; The Search Within; Fast Peter; Sweet Exposure; The Blues (38.48)
Tassos Spiliotopoulos (g); Michalis Evdemon (b); Panos Vassilopoulos (d). Athens, Stockholm, 2020.
Anelia Records ACD107