No cold up there: elegiac exorcism from transcontinental jazz voyager and his quartet.
He might be a merchant of cool, but this guitarist’s modus operandi is based on emotion rather than a vivid lick. Moving on from Athens to London and, after twelve years of playing with masters of his trade, to Stockholm – hence his third album’s title – Spiliotopoulos has progressed from elegant, noir-hued instrumentalist to a composer who passes tunes to the ensemble and, quite often, stays in a supporting position, performance-wise.
There’s a splash in the mood for the frivolous “Friday Frolics” where the group charge lightly into fusion, and in “By Way Of Fire” which may epitomize sunny sadness, but for the most part serenity reigns supreme here, the ruminative “Waterfall” setting things in slow motion with a weave of Örjan Hultén’s sax and finding its reflection in the sparkle of “Downfall Monologue” later on. Hidden in a unison flow, Tassos’ six strings come to the fore when unpredictable ripple has to ruffle the main riff, although it’s guitar’s interplay with Palle Sollinger’s bass that propels “Emerald Blues” towards its sharp edge and keeps “Underground” in an ever-shifting focus.
Spiliotopoulos’ stripping the cinematic sirtaki of “Ποιμενικόν (Shepherd’s Minor)” down to Montgomery-esque twang is a nostalgic trip yet one can sense a smile in his tapping into a certain Ellington’s tune. Still, it’s the closing “Old Demons” that crystallizes the relentless, resonant stained-glass chill of Tassos’ strum, before his band chime in with delicate strokes to bring melancholy home – because home is where the artist’s imagination is, and this player’s fantasy has no boundaries; that’s why he’s on the move and that’s why he’s in constant search for a cooler place.