Acrobat - 2016

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Yiorgos Fakanas - Mike Stern - Lew Soloff

Ars Nova Athina Records Releases “Acrobat”, the 10th Album by Composer, Bassist, and Educator, Yiorgos Fakanas.
Acrobat features fantastic performances by drummer Dennis Chambers, late trumpeter Lew Soloff, guitarist Mike Stern, and the Yiorgos Fakanas Group

“When it comes to playing the electric bass, Fakanas is one bad boy. And his compositions? Incredible!” -drumming master Dennis Chambers

“Fakanas’ music is very challenging, and very adventurous. It's got a lot of energy. He’s a great guy, and I enjoyed working with him.”
--Mike Stern, six-time Grammy nominated guitarist and jazz icon
“I live in Greece, one of the greatest cultures in the world,” says Yiorgos Fakanas. “The music I compose is not popular music. The style of music my group plays is difficult to communicate and develop in Greece. So I feel like an acrobat all the time. But really, every artist is an acrobat. When you create something new you don’t know if people will accept it. In that way being a musician is like walking a tightrope.”
Building on his epic catalog of nine previous releases, Yiorgos Fakanas’ Acrobat is a dazzling album of intricate compositions performed by a remarkable cast.  Yiorgos– bassist, composer, educator, and publisher – builds on his legacy and the influence of such legendary recordings as Return to Forever/Chick Corea’s Musicmagic, Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Visions of the Emerald Beyond, and the Brecker Brothers’ Heavy Metal Bebop, updating the 1970s electric jazz paradigm with an innovative orchestral approach.
“I love fusion which comes from jazz,” Yiorgos says. “But, I think we have to develop the compositions within fusion. I always needed more from fusion. I wanted to create compositions that were complex yet still melodic. These melodies are like bridges for people who perhaps aren’t into fusion”.
One of the finest electric bassists in the world and considered a virtuoso by his peers, (including renowned bassist Anthony Jackson, for whom Yiorgos composed all the material on Jackson’s debut recording, Interspirit), Fakanas leads the musicians on Acrobat with his Fodera signature bass and Aguilar amplification. But as with all great instrumentalists, he places the music over individual performances, one element of Acrobat’s power. Playing up to three basses in a single track, Yiorgo’s music leaves the listener in awe of his instrumental prowess; even more so of the spectacular orchestral jazz he brings to life on Acrobat.
“The music and material decides the direction of my music, not the instrument,” Yiorgos explains. “Live, we play music from all of my ten albums. The bass is essential but the most important thing is to compose the music, not to compose music for the instrument. Music comes first, the instrument comes second.”

When not creating his own music or working on the various commissions he has received in recent years (from Orchestras inGreece and abroad), Fakanas teaches at the music conservatory he founded (20 years ago), Art Music School - Y. Fakanas. He’s also the former publisher of Jazz-Fusion Mood magazine, covering all things international within the jazz fusion style.
A working musician since the early 1980s, Fakanas has performed and recorded with Mike Stern, Frank Gambale, Anthony Jackson, Dave Weckl, Alex Acuna, Bireli Lagrene, Dennis Chambers, Horacio El Negro, Guthrie Govan, Greg Howe, Eric Marienthal, Brett Garsed, Mitch Forman, OtmaroRuiz, Barry Finerty, Steve Weingart, Tony Lakatos, Scott Kinsey, Jeff Richman, Wallace Roney, Lenny White, Mike Miller, Bob Franceschini and many more. Many of these artists appeared on such Fakanas’ albums as Echoes, Domino, Maestro and Interspirit.
On Acrobat, along with Chambers, Stern, and the late, great Soloff, Fakanas is accompanied by a large cast including tenor saxophonist David Lynch, trombonist Antonis Andreou, alto saxophonist Takis Paterelis, keyboardist Yiorgos Kontrafouris, and baritone saxophonist Sam Marlieri. The principal soloists certainly shine (including the solo bass improvisations, “Breath I” and “II”), but the band and the music are the real stars of Acrobat. From the storming title track and the heated Afro Cuban groove of “Notos,” to the R&B thrill ride of “World of Fun” (featuring Fakanas’ slippery slap bass work), the Herbie Hancock cover “Chameleon,” and the closing four-part suite, “No Princess No Island, No God,” Acrobat reveals Yiorgos Fakanas the composer, bandleader, and bass player in all his multi-limbed prowess.              
“There are three ways of composing,” Yiorgos states. “There’s the ‘I will do whatever I want and I don’t care if I communicate with people’ approach. Then there’s the commercial way: ‘I will write what people want to hear.’ But there is something in between. If you can approach people with a nice melody and with your style, you will arrive at a much more interesting result.
“I am inspired to do this,” Yiorgos concludes. “If it becomes too complex I will create a bridge to relax the music. It’s all about tension and release, and all about the music.”

Yiorgos Fakanas discusses Acrobat, track by track
“Heavy Metal Bebop” is one of the records I listened to as a kid. It was fantastic. I didn’t compose this song necessarily thinking of that, but it’s in my blood. I play three different basses on this track. My Yamaha six-string behind Mike Stern’s solo. On my solo I’m using an Odyssey five-string fretless bass. The main theme is played with the four-string Fodera.”
“’Notos’ in Greek means ‘south’.  The main melody is an echo of a traditional African song I heard as a student in Florence, Italy. It was performed by an African band playing live with no electric instruments. My melody isn’t exactly the same; it’s like an echo of that melody. I tried to give it that African flavor together with my Greek heritage and jazz knowledge.”
“’Senza’ was originally composed with lyrics. I usually prefer to have orchestral or instrumental music. A friend gave me very good lyrics and asked me to compose a song around them.
Which I did. But now we recorded it without the lyrics and that’s ‘Senza.’ It’s something closer to cantabile, something that can be sung easily.”
“World of Fun”
“I used to have a band (named Iskra) with the American saxophonist David Lynch who now lives in Greece. We did that tune together originally but in a different way. It provides a very good groove for Dennis Chambers and a good solo vehicle for Mike Stern, as well. That’s why his solo is killing there.  The way we’re playing as a trio is important. It’s only me, Dennis, and Mike playing in that particular part of the tune”.
“Breath I” and “II”
“Those are both improvisations. The album is so burning top to bottom that I thought the listener needed a breather to relax a bit. I played the improvisations in the studio with some synth pads. ‘Breath II’ came out so well, I wrote down the melody and I’m writing a song based on that for one of my next albums. I’m playing my Greek Odyssey five string fretless bass on ‘Breath I,’ then the 4 string Fodera on ‘Breath II.’”
“I used to play ‘Chameleon’ as all bass players do. I wanted to do something completely different that would not be so obvious. Herbie’s original isn’t as fast as we played it and it has less notes than my version. I’m using the same phrase from the song’s theme, but with different tonalities, that gives it a harmonic richness. Herbie’s version is, of course, a work of art.”
“I’m playing slap bass there trying to use it in a more musical way. I try to use slap bass as a part of the composition, as expression and only when the music demands it”.
“’Avalon’ and ‘Oratios’ were part of a commission I received to write a rock opera. I composed its two and a half hours in 40 days. I changed the arrangement for the band on the album.
“No Princess, No Island, No God”
“It’s based on an English fairy tale. The myth says that if you want to save yourself there are no princes that can save you and no island where you can isolate yourself. There is no God that can help you if you don’t help yourself. You can hear that there are three instruments playing alone. Bass, piano, and drums. Three open solos. Each one facing the future”.       


Last modified on Thursday, 26 January 2017 15:34
back to top