Lefteris Kordis ‘Mediterrana (Goddess of Light)’ (Inner Circle Music) 3/5

lefteris-kordis“Mediterrana” blends modern jazz with Mediterranean folk music, resulting in a colourful, textural, light and breezy combination of sound. Pianist Lefteris Kordis composed the tunes as a suite of music, written for and about a girl who appears in such various forms as a Saracen woman, Greek Goddess Artemis, Mediterrana, the mother of the Mediterranean paradise. The music is a journey in places where she appears in one or another form. There’s a lovely acoustic feel to the recording, one which benefits from some fine performances from the musicians involved. A subtle mix of acoustic piano, ney (flute), acoustic bass, clarinet, drums, percussion, harmonica and laouto (which sounds like a 12 string acoustic guitar), give the album a very summery feel, joyous and celebratory.
The opening tune “In the land of Phrygians” benefits from a distinct Eastern feel. The melody is performed on ney (bamboo flute) and this works wonderfully well, creating a lush atmosphere together with the piano. The addition of Korg Sigma doesn’t work so well, the synthetic sounds not sitting comfortably with the rest of the music. A fine piece of music nonetheless. Kordis describes the second tune “Yota”; “I meet her in fairy-tale like circumstance. The first time I see her, she is singing with her eyes closed. Her voice is the projection of an old spirit in the body of an angel.” This piano led piece is beautiful, truly doing justice to the composer’s vision. The title track “Mediterrana” features the laouto, a Greek instrument that looks similar to an oud in appearance. It actually sounds like a 12 string acoustic guitar and reminds me of Ralph Towner in his early ECM days. The tune is lifted by its sweet combination of laouto, piano and Persian percussion. There’s also the addition of harmonica, which although performed with wonderful skill, doesn’t seem to fit as well with the style of the music. “Deep Green” is based on the composer’s mountainous journey in Greece, near the borders with Bulgaria. The tune depicts the green valley and the sounds echoing from singing birds. There’s a more upbeat, playful feel to “The Raven and The Fox”, one of the freer, jazzier numbers on the album. Some very nice drum and bass interplay lay the foundation for Kordis’ piano explorations. “Journey with Pilgrims” once more combines the laouto and harmonica, with the piano taking the listener on a sunlit journey of deep tinted hues and organic textures. There’s an intriguing version of the Beatles’ classic “And I Love Her”, before the album closes with “Nas”, a gentle meditation based on watching the sunset, this being a fitting end to the composer’s adventure. “Mediterrana” plays like a day’s journey, from the opening sunrise over a beautiful hidden land, to the closing sunset, with reflections of the day’s dreamy events.

Mike Gates