The debut offering from Athens, Greece’s Thomas Mitrousis Quartet gives a whirlwind, feet-off-the-ground experience. Leader and guitarist Mitrousis has all the fingerwork to keep the vibe easy even when the drums and brushes are briskly whisking us along. In nine fresh tracks, this CD is a simultaneous exploration into musicians that gel beautifully together while giving the listener the ability to clearly appreciate each one’s specific talent.
“Poisonous Little Flower” does its share of bobbing and weaving to create a feeling of being enveloped in a heady mood. On the other hand, “Bipolar Express” launches with a descent of chords beautifully blocked in by piano right before the guitar takes the melody to new heights. “Quinta” has a beauty that is made more sweetly painful by upright bass. Cheeky and pleasing, “Fax from Fux” is another lovely tune. All different, yet the quartet definitely has a sound it owns and is exploring for our benefit here in this CD.
What does it feel like to have just released your first album?
I have been very excited about the release of my first album as it has been a dream of mine for a long time. Being able to share my emotions and thoughts through my music means a lot to me!
What were the biggest challenges of this project and what was the most fun?
The rehearsals took place during the pandemic period while most traveling was forbidden. Each time we were driving to the studio we were taking a huge risk of being fined!
Musically speaking, the biggest challenge was to blend the sounds of the guitar and the piano. We realized that we have to arrange the music in an imaginative way, aiming to make it sound as personal as possible and keep things interesting from the beginning till the end of the album.
Every moment spent with my fellows (Dimitris Klonis, Paraskevas Kitsos and Kostas Yaxoglou) was really fun. They are extremely positive with a great sense of humor. We really enjoyed the whole process and had a great time together!
How long ago did you start work on this album? Why is it called The Seed?
I have had some of the melodies in my head for years but there was never enough time to do anything with them. The first lockdown in March 2020 gave me the chance to explore and put the ideas together. The rehearsal and recording period coincided with my wife’s pregnancy. This is the main reason that the album is called The Seed. The fact that this is my first release played its part too!
When did you start playing your instrument?
I started playing the classical guitar at the age of 12, but I got really into it at the age of 16 when a friend of mine gave me his electric guitar.
When did you learn about jazz and why did you decide to become a professional musician?
As a teenager, I was a fan of rock music. The transition to jazz went smoothly through blues and fusion music. Thinking about it, I started listening to jazz when I was 20.
I realized very early that the more time I would spend with music, the happier I would be. I was still a teenager when I made the decision. A professional musician’s life is quite adventurous but I have not regretted it so far!
When you compose, what are the ideas that inspire you? How do you incorporate concepts from jazz into other influences?
Inspiration comes from different directions. Sometimes it is a movie, a book, a painting, a good or a bad memory, a conversation with friends and of course music itself. Jazz is undoubtedly my favorite genre, but recording a mainstream jazz album wouldn’t be an honest reflection of myself. Different elements from classical or rock music come to me naturally and I embrace them without guilt.
The quartet that appears in the album consists of some of my favorite Greek jazz musicians, each one having a personal sound and style. I would say that the jazz sound derives mostly from the way these amazing musicians treat the rhythm, the chords, the melodies and the improvisations rather than the compositions themselves.
How did you meet your other musicians?
I met Dimitris (drums) back in 2014. We were both members of the Greek National Theater orchestra. From that time onward, we’ve kept a strong friendship. With Paraskevas (double bass) we share almost the same story! We also met as band members of a musical theater in 2020. I was really happy to participate in his latest album The Wonderful Twos. With Kostas (piano) we met directly in the rehearsal room! Despite the fact that we were both studying in the Netherlands, we had never met before. I was a fan of his playing, though!
Do you have a favorite track?
The last track of the album “Not Yet.” It sounds very simple but it took a lot of time and effort to complete its composition. I find this song very emotional, but I would say that every song of the album has its own vibe.
Where have you performed recently, and where will you be performing over the next few months?
Recently I have performed in several bars in Athens with trios and duets. The next thing I am planning to do is to perform with the quartet and hopefully present The Seed at some festivals.
For more information visit https://thomasmitr.bandcamp.com/releases.
Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.
© 2022 Debbie Burke