”TOPAZ” new CD Realised


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In 1993, the Athens Concert Hall commissioned Yiorgos Fakanas to compose 2 works to be presented at the event “Great Night of Jazz”, organized by OMMA on November 6 of the same year.
On the occasion of this commission he composed the work “Dizzy Miles”, (which was a tribute to the two great musicians of Jazz) and “Topaz”. The great innovation that these two works brought to the musical culture of our country was that it was the first time a full string orchestra was used, combined with a pure Jazz octet. It was the first presentation in Greece of a work of the so-called “Third Stream”, by a Greek composer. “TOPAZ” was and still is a Jazz suite in 6 parts, distinguished by the continuous conversation of the two parts of the orchestra: strings and Jazz ensemble. It took 29 years for the composer to decide to record this score.
The project was completed by 8 more musical images, created in the last two years. This is how the recording (Topaz) is produced today, which includes another testimony of Fakanas’ soul. From the first note the listener realizes that they will travel through a musical journey rich in information, which leads to an aesthetic pleasure with a strong emotional content. Contributing to this fact, on the one hand, is the rich writing of the work with its alternating musical images, and on the other hand, the compelling and thorough interpretative detail in the performance of the amazing group of participating musicians who were invited to present their art in a third-stream project of such magnitude.
Starting with the legendary Cuban drummer: Horacio el negro Hernandez, who combined his great rhythmic ability derived from his Latin experiences with the soulful musicality he projected, guided by the musical text. A strong taste of Cuba, combined with the Greek temperament of the music. Alongside is the rest of the rhythm section, consisting of the great American pianist-keyboardist Steve Weinghart, together with Dimitris Sevdalis, the also Cuban percussionist Enrique Bu, the vibraphonist Dimitris Angelakis and the composer Yiorgos Fakanas on bass, who formed a perfect structured support to the melodic events of the composition, often impressing with their improvisations.
Then, two melodic groups complete the soundscape of the work. On the one hand, the brass players: Mihail Iossifov (trumpet), Takis Paterelis (saxes), David Lynch (soprano sax), Sam Marlieri (saxes and clarinet), Antonis Andreou (trombone) and the New Yorker Bob Franceschini (tenor sax), create a robust sound ensemble that seems to transform Fakanas’ demanding writing into a pleasant and accessible melodic adventure. Accordingly, the second melodic group of strings, with the excellent musician Nina Patrikidou (1st and 2nd violins) and Mikhail Smirnof (viola), Marina Kolovou (cello) and Giorgos Georgiadis (double bass), adds the third-stream energy to the overall sound effect, decisively increasing the listener’s emotional range.
In terms of content, “TOPAZ” is the letter to a young man from an older man, who tries to convey his experiential footprints and conclusions, wanting to open calmer ways of life for the new one. It is a sonic feast whose fullness creates images and proves once again the practical beauty of orchestral music that leads to absolute enjoyment.