Jez Nelson, in this week’s Jazz On 3 programme (BBC Radio 3 and here for another 28 days), mentioned unusual instruments in jazz. Well here’s one, and it’s a pretty old one too.
Sokratis Sinopoulos is an expert player of the lyra, the stringed instrument which can be traced back to Orpheus. If you are a fan of the music of Eleni Karaindrou, you will probably have heard him. This is his first CD as a leader on ECM and with him are pianist Yann Keerim, bassist Dimitris Tsekouras and drummer Dimitris Emanouil.
The music is gentle and, as one might expect, lyrical. In fact some of the melodies and harmonies could sound a little over-sweet, especially if we were hearing them played on a modern violin rather than the lyra. This little bowed instrument has a somewhat deadpan tone and the timbral nuances are fairly narrow, very subtle and all the more beguiling as a result. Sinopoulos draws from it a truly timeless sound, slightly dusty and almost creaky with age perhaps. It’s almost incapable of over-emoting, which is just as it should be with this music.
There are occasional funkier moments – Thrace is one – but the general consistency of mood throughout further enhances the gentle reflective quality of the music. It’s a stress-calmer, a meditative aid, a rose-petalled bath in sound. Yearningly beautiful.
Here is a short introduction:
Categories: CD review