CD Review: Spiral Trio, Broken Blue.

Written by | CD Reviews, News, Reviews

As a true fan of the piano trio format, when this album by the Greek based Spiral Trio landed in my in box, my interest was immediately peaked. Consisting of Spyros Manesis piano, Arionas Gyftakis, double bass and drummer Anastasis Gouliaris, the Spiral Trio has been around for close to a decade.

The group state that the concept behind the trio is an “intense and adventurous sense of interplay which results to the creation of a wide pallet of musical images” and after my first listening of this recording, I couldn’t agree more. While the trio started out playing mostly standards, they have evolved into a group that is firmly focused on composition and this is well reflected on this album. Broken Blue contains seven original compositions along with Michel Legrand’s “Once upon a Summertime”. The compositional duties are shared among the members with three tunes penned by pianist Spyros Manesis and an equal number by Arionas Gyftakis. The remaining track, “Portrait in Yellow”, in my mind perhaps the most unique piece on the album, is contributed by drummer Anastasis Gouliaris.

The album opens with the ballad “Rubicon”, a highly conversational and melodic track that is somewhat reminiscent to the classic Bill Evens trio with Scott LaFaro however harmonically far less structured. I particularly enjoyed Arionas Gyftakis’ bass solo and the interaction with pianist Spyros Manesis. The following track titled “Hig” picks up the tempo. This track is the complete opposite to the preceding track presenting a far more urgent approach and a great deal more harmonic tension.

The albums title track “Broken Blue” is an uptempo swinger allowing plenty of space for Spyros Manesis to stretch out with an extended solo demonstrating his virtuosity. “Bipolar” is quite similar in feel. Melodically the track is quite disjointed with this adding to the tension and exaggerated with Manesis’ extended unaccompanied piano exploration. A great uptempo swinger that truly is bipolar in nature. Harmonically the track sounded familiar and this was confirmed after reading the albums liner-notes where in the group confirmed that the track was based on the changes to Miles Davis’ Solar.

Bassist Arionas Gyftakis takes the lead on his own composition “Ding Dong”. I found the structure of this track highly interesting as both Gyftakis and Manesis deliver intriguing unaccompanied solo’s. “Blue flower” picks up the tempo again, swinging from start to finish. This track is my personal highlight on the album displaying amazing interplay between bass and piano. Also of note here is Manesis’ comping under the drum solo, a masterclass in tension building.


The above video shows the trio “Broken Blue” live at Espacio Turina in Sevilla

Closing out the album is “Portrait in Yellow”. As I mentioned above this is perhaps the most unique composition on the album. The band themselves describe this piece as “… a purely impressionistic composition, with timbral harmony and a pro-formative approach characterized by introspection, an implicit inner pulse and a mood of melancholy and reminiscence.” What more can I say. Having spent many years in the recording industry, I have always adhered to the idea that an albums bookends are the two most important tracks on an album. The opening track to informs the listener what’s to come and the closing track should give them a take away, something to think about. this is without doubt the case here.

I’ve been a fan of the piano trio format since discovering Bill Evans in my youth and the history of jazz is littered with amazing trios, the list is far to long to mention however, one thing for sure, this album proves that the Spiral Trio should take their rightful place on this list. I highly recommend this album.

Track Listing:
1 Rubicon | 2. Hig | 3 Broken Blue | 4 Once upon a Summertime | 5 Bipolar | 6 Ding Dong | 7 Blue Flower | 8 Portrait in Yellow

Spyros Manesis piano | Arionas Gyftakis, double bass | Anastasis Gouliaris, drums

Release Date: 24 April 2022
Format: CD | Digital
Label: Odradek Records

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Last modified: September 10, 2023