Album reviews

Giorgos Tabakis – ‘hEre nOw theN’

Giorgos Tabakis – hEre nOw theN

(Efkrassis Productions. Album review by Chris Wheatley)

Recording a solo jazz album must be a daunting project. With nowhere to hide and no band-mates to rely on, you must really have to be fearless and totally confident in your ability. Then again, if you do possess those qualities, there can be no better canvas for self-expression.

hEre nOw theN is just such a beast – ten tracks of solo guitar from Athens-based Giorgos Tabakis. Tabakis certainly has the requisite skills and knowledge. He started learning the classical style aged ten, before spending years studying jazz guitar, harmony, theory and composition from renowned player Andreas Georgiou. What makes this album especially interesting is that here Tabakis plays an eight-stringed guitar, a GT 8 MOOV, to be precise. It’s a fascinating instrument, which somewhat resembles a medieval crossbow. It’s also a challenging instrument, but then Tabakis is likewise proficient on the sitar, the sarod, the didgeridoo and even the Tibetan Horn.

Attraction, opens the show, and a beautiful opening it is. Tabakis uses the increased dynamic range of the eight-string guitar to full effect, setting up rolling, nuanced bass-lines simultaneously with higher-pitched melodies. In fact, the roles of the two often swap, with bass and then treble taking the lead. It’s a wondrous performance. The skill on display here is incredible. Most impressively, the music itself is gripping. By turns adventurous, rhythmic and questing,Tabakis takes us on a wonderful journey full of unexpected detours into fascinating nooks and crannies.

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This standard is matched by the rest of the album, though Tabakis injects a lovely variety into the set. Touch drifts by on delicate clouds of ringing melody, saying as much in its spaces as in its fluid, running lines. Tabakis is never content just to set up a groove. Nothing feels predictable here, yet at the same time the music is never obtuse. Emotion lies at the core of Tabakis’ music, and that emotion is channelled through mesmerizing technique. It”s a cliché, but you will utterly forget that this is a solo album.

Dream Within A Dream conjures up all the nuanced mystery of the Poe short story from which it undoubtedly takes its name. Tabakis explores the upper register here to great affect, constructing an ephemeral staircase of notes which will lead you up into mysterious clouds. Alternating crystal-clear expressions with muggy chords and slapped effects, Dream Within A Dream is a striking and memorable piece. Once again, Tabakis utilises the breadth of the eight-string’s vocabulary in surprising, exhilarating fashion.

Dust drifts by delicately, both dense and meaningful. It’s a brief, poignant statement which seems to speak of fate, time and all in-between. The rousing, bopping Soul And Body begins with a lovely bass-line before veering off in multiple, captivating directions, like a bunch of fireworks going off. Again, however, Takabis keeps the music accessible and moving. His simultaneous bass-and-melody style is captivating.

hEre nOw theN offers ten highly thoughtful, highly emotive tracks which are both fun and inspiring to listen to. Aside from admiring Tabakis’ technique, it’s clear that a huge amount of effort and planning has gone into these tracks, and the rewards are there to hear.

LINK: George Tabakis’ website

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