Lyrically Glowing: Spiral Trio and new CD Broken Blue

A light hand, melodies with space to breathe and a fullness of flow describe the natural touch that Spiral Trio has on their new CD, Broken Blue. While “Rubicon” is a stunner of a tone poem, the jaunty attitude of “Bipolar” has sense and style, and they swing light but sure on “Blue Flower.” “Portrait in Yellow” starts as an enigma; a flurry of brushwork and subtlety in percussion heralding in the piano and bass which sing in unison. The song comes together as it ends with a soul-satisfying, shimmering fadeout.

Personnel: Anastasis Gouliaris, drums; Spyros Manesis, piano; Arionas Gyftakis, double bass. All players contribute as composers. Responses provided by Anastasis Gouliaris.

Why did you name the CD Broken Blue?

Broken Blue is the title of the song that Spyros wrote some years ago and we have performed it many times and loved it a lot. It was perfect for the title because it has the “blue” color which is essential for jazz music and the “broken” feel that is dominant in all the songs of the album.

Why did you choose this label?

People in Odradek Records have a unique approach to choosing the artists that they want to collaborate with. The musicians (that already have published their work on Odradek) are the judges of any new proposal that comes to the company. They listen to the music without knowing who the artist is. That means that music is the only factor in choosing or not choosing an artist.  That was very important to us, so we are very happy to be on Odradek’s team.

What inspired this CD?

During quarantine, as there were no live events, we thought that it was the perfect time to collect all of the songs that we wrote the last three or four years and do a recording session. It was a good day for the trio and all the songs were performed with a high level of musicality and interplay.

What is your favorite track and why?

I cannot really choose one track. Every one of them has a special flavor and all of them really speak to my heart in a different way.

How did you meet the other members of your trio?

We all met around 2012 in the same jazz school. When we started playing together, there was a beautiful chemistry going on. The trio evolved and made two records and a lot of live performances and tours. I hope we do a lot of them in the future.

When you compose, do you usually start with the melody or the rhythm?

Melody is the first thing that comes to my mind when I compose music. Then I write it down and try to find the best form and harmony that could reinforce the color that I have in my mind for this melody.

What was your early training in music like?

I started when I was 15 years old by taking lessons and playing the drums. Later on, I started a proper musical education by learning the basics of the piano, the theory of music and jazz harmony.

Spiral Trio

When did you first hear jazz?

That was when I was 19 years old, when my teacher at the time introduced me to Tony Williams. I heard the amazing second quintet of Miles Davis and then I decided that this approach of high interplay from the drums was what I wanted from this instrument. Later on, I understood that what Tony was doing there is from another planet and I started practicing very hard and in a focused manner. Of course that goes on today.

What does jazz mean to you?

Jazz of course is not one thing. It is something different happening to me when I listen to Paul Bley than when I listen to Dizzy Gillespie. If I had to say one thing that I am looking for, it is fresh vocabulary from the soloist and a very clear color from the whole band that can take me on a small “trip” like a very good film or a novel does.

How do you feel when you play it?

It depends on the occasion. If we could speak about the ideal live performance that happens every now and then, I would say that I feel safe  to go and try things that they are not sure or safe. This is the ideal jazz gig. Most of the time, I do not have this inner confidence and so the risk that I take is less. But I sure try to get to the ideal point every time. If this is happening, then the connection with the other musicians is magical.

What do you enjoy best about the trio configuration?

I am a big fan of the piano trio. I have been listening to Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau, to name a few, for many years with great pleasure. It is a formation that leaves a lot of space to play and also to perform many different varieties and textures in music.

What was the most exciting thing about creating and producing this music?

When we are focused, there is a high level of interplay. The compositions in this album are exciting, and the different spaces that they create gave us the opportunity to interact a different way every time. The friendship and trust that we have is a big factor every time we get together.

What’s coming up?

We are going to play some major jazz festivals around Greece in the summer, as well as “Ciclo de Jazz” Festival in Granada and Clasijazz club in Almeria in mid-July. We are also planning our next European tour for winter 2022-2023.

What is the hardest thing about being a musician today?

As always, a jazz musician has to do a lot in order to survive financially. That was always a big thing and it still is. Other than that, I have to say that the amount of information in our everyday life is so big that creates a noise in the artist’s head. You must have the character to deal with this situation or the discipline to do your job without allowing this problem to interfere with your work.

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Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.

© 2022 Debbie Burke

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