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Dimitri Vassilakis – 'Parallel Lines'
Candid CCD 79792
Dimitri Vassilakis, tenor and soprano saxophones, drums and vocals; Essiet Okon Essiet, bass; Jeff “Tain” Watts, drums. Recorded from 2003 to 2005.
I’ve put tenor before soprano in the above, as the latter appears but infrequently. The album kicks off as it means to continue, overflowing with hard-toned, high-powered swing. At once both post-Coltrane and post-Rollins, there is no mistaking the influence of Rollins on this musician. Vassilakis alludes to Rollins and to Rollins’ Freedom Suite as his principal motivation for the form of this album, in dedicating Parallel Lines to them.
The album slows down for ‘Soul Eyes’ at track 5, but the performance is otherwise conducted with ecstatic style and the music is bright and brand new. It exhibits a considerable range of harmonic reverberation and depth of tonal colour, so remains dramatically expressive, even though its technical basis can be clearly heard as well as followed from the sleeve notes.
The tenor’s tone has considerable depth and Vassilakis leads all the way, his composition and playing both sustaining an infinity of poetic elegance. Essiet and Watts donate their impassioned solos, but throughout they also maintain a performance that is energetic, immensely fluent and utterly robust. This trio is one classy act and in this creation delivers a hot, but sweet, expressive warmth that held my interest throughout. Vocals? – don’t worry about it: it’s more like brief commentary than an attempt at singing and really only appears at track 9, swiftly to be subsumed by ‘The drum think’ at 10. The whole moves forward with dynamism and prolonged innovation and demonstrates that in this saxophonist we have a fertile imagination and a singular identity.