Yiannis Papadopoulos ‘Mirrorself’ LP/CD (Puzzlemusik) 4/5

Yiannis Papadopoulos’ debut album “Mirrorself” sets a contemporary piano-led jazz trio alongside a string quartet. The results are wonderful. Far from an archetypal ‘jazz with strings’ album, the strings form an integral part of the compositions, making the whole thing a very well-rounded, enjoyable experience.

The Greek pianist/composer draws on elements of jazz, cinematic and classical music to create a meditative yet powerful and emotive soundscape. Captivating and dream-like, the tracks rise and fall, pensive becoming expressive, thoughtful becoming powerful, meandering becoming focussed, taking the listener on a mesmerising journey of discovery.

Papadopoulos is one of the founding members of the contemporary jazz Greek band “The Next Step”. Having released three albums with this band in 2013, 2015 and 2020, he has also worked with many musicians on the active and evolving Greek jazz scene. This new release should elevate the pianist’s status even further and hopefully bring him wider recognition throughout Europe and beyond.

The album explores many imaginative themes and dialogues, from the luxurious arrangements of the title track, to the heart-stopping excitement of “Tempest”, to the exhilarating lyrical beauty of “Neverending”, and the edgy uncertainty of “Architect”. The seven pieces sit together well, with the wonderful arrangements sometimes taking centre stage, and sometimes sitting back, allowing the trio to take the time and space any given piece needs.

The core trio on this recording is exemplary. Papadopoulos’ piano playing shares a lyrical, melodic quality with the likes of Brad Mehldau and Esbjorn Svensson, and his skill as a pianist alone should not be underestimated. Ntinos Manos on bass, and Vassilis Podaras (aka Billy Pod) on drums, both add memorable musicianship and an interconnected quality to the session.

“Mirrorself” is a beautifully crafted album. Intelligent, emotive music from pianist/composer Papadopoulos. Available now on CD, it will also be released on vinyl in October, which I very much look forward to hearing.

Mike Gates