Nikolas Anadolis Burns in Heidelberg

JAH-471_Booklet

ENJOY JAZZ FESTIVAL 2014 / ANADOLIS: Windows of Opportunity. Uncle Lefteris. Zu-Zu. Things We Used to Do Together. The Touch. Path to the Sky. Weaknesses. Like a Shadow. Gone Forever / Nikolas Anadolis Trio: Anadolis, pno; Simon Tailleu, bs; Jonas Burgwinkel, dm / SWR Jazzhaus JAH-471 (live: Heidelberg, October 13, 2014)

Greek pianist Nikolas Anadolis, who studied with Fred Hersch at Berklee, definitely has his own style. His approach is more varied and exciting; he takes more risks and pulls them off brilliantly, and his very talented rhythm section follows him every step of the way.

From a formal style, Anadolis’ compositions are not the most complex or groundbreaking out there, but they have a wonderful sense of lyricism and attractive melodies, something that many modern jazz pieces do not have. Uncle Lefteris is clearly based on classical form and style, opening with sparkling left-hand figures over which he plays equally sparkling right-hand notes. This style returns near the end, but in between Anadolis plays some really fine, swinging improvisations. Even in a ballad like Zu-Zu, Anadolis does his own thing, and really owes his principal style to no one else I can think of except perhaps Keith Jarrett, who isn’t anywhere as exciting or innovative a player as this.

A technical description of what Anadolis does here is possible but would be space-consuming. This is, in essence, jazz-classical fusion at its very best, and if the pianist tends to dominate the solo space he clearly earns it through his brilliant musical conceptions, although bassist Tailleu gets a fine solo in The Touch, a piece that has a Latin flavor to the rhythm, doubling the tempo in his second chorus in a very interesting manner, then playing in quarter-note triplets.

This kind of musical brinksmanship continues throughout this set, for instance in Path to the Sky which might be called a jazz waltz though it is really a classical waltz that tilts towards the jazz spectrum because of its high degree of improvisation. Anadolis also throws in some surprising key changes, then quickly and magically morphs back to the original tonality. In Weaknesses, Anadolis plays mind-boggling but crystal-clear keyboard runs that sound for all the world like something out of Rachmaninov or Medtner; this is truly astounding playing. He then morphs the music into an almost staccato march beat while continually improvising above it before loosening the rhythm while the bass and drums support him, the latter in an opposing rhythm. Eventually, the music becomes an almost mad-sounding mélange of notes, but Anadolis knows exactly what he’s doing and where he’s going. He sounds like a combination of Jacques Loussier, Art Tatum and Glenn Gould. In Like a Shadow, drummer Burgwinkel, finally given a solo of his own, erupts like Buddy Rich on speed.

Anatolis continues in this vein throughout this recital, one of the most exciting and original I’ve heard in a very long time. This is truly some of the most exciting and original music I’ve heard in a very long time!

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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