Even if his country were teeming with notable jazz musicians, Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos would be a standout. His 2004 disc The Triangle (with bassist Arild Andersen and drummer John Marshall) is not only an excellent example of the durability of the Bill Evans trio sound, but also one of the best ECM releases of recent vintage. Melos, his latest for the label, suggests that The Triangle is an inadequate representation of his versatility.
On the new album, which also features the German cellist Anja Lechner and the Italian drummer U.T. Gandhi, Tsabropoulos blends almost effortlessly into a globalized, or at least EU-icized, tapestry. The music on this disc isn’t quite tango, jazz or classical, but a fusion of all three. Tsabropoulos, by and large, moves gracefully around the edges of Lechner’s Latin-flavored melodies, sprinkling notes as if tending to a garden. It would be unprofessional to say that the cellist doesn’t dominate the proceedings. Her sound is thick and bass-heavy, whereas Tsabropoulos and Gandhi tend toward sparkling upper-register tones.
But the pianist can be forceful, too. On “Gift of Dreams,” he both works inside the trio’s terrain and reintroduces us to the muscular romanticism of The Triangle. Lechner, in response, more or less sticks to the sidelines until the end of the seven-minute cut. This makes sense. How much dovetailing can two strong personalities—even musicians as sensitive as these—be expected to undertake?