Thursday, April 14, 2016

Jorgos Skolias/Antonis Skolias – Kolos (2016)

Jorgos Skolias/Antonis Skolias

Jorgos Skolias - vocals
Antonis Skolias - percussion, vocals



By Adam Baruch

This is a wonderful duo album by Polish vocalist/composer Jorgos Skolias and his son Antonis Skolias, who sings and plays drums and percussions. Together they perform nine original songs, all co-composed by the father/son team, which feature lyrics in the Greek language. Three of the songs have lyrics by the Greek poet Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and who is now recognized as one of the finest Modern Greek poets. Another four songs originate in songs Jorgos remembers from his childhood.

Jorgos Skolias is one of several musicians active on the Polish scene, who belong to the Polish Greek community, members of which arrived in Poland as political refugees escaping the persecutions following the end of the civil unrest in Greece after WWII and the defeat of the communists in 1949. Poland, a "young" socialist country at the time, opened its doors to the Greek exiles and they became integrated within the Polish society, producing such great musicians as Apostolis Anthimos, Milo Kurtis, Konstanty Joriadis and others.

The album is a bold statement of originality; featuring just vocals and percussion where the limitations seem insurmountable, and yet the duo manages to create a fully fledged bona fide magical musical environment, which seems completely natural and misses nothing. Of course Jorgos Skolias is a phenomenal vocalist, a fact known to all his followers since many years, who is able to use his vocal chords in ways nobody else tried before. His ability to create wordless vocalese is a class in itself and he is able to carry a melody like an entire set of instrumentalists. In some ways this album is another facet of his work with the Oles Brothers and their trio called Sefardix, which features vocals supported solely by a rhythm section, which also works out fabulously.

It is quite impossible to label this music stylistically, and perhaps this quality is one of its strengths. There are Folkloristic elements here, but also improvisation, Rocky rhythms, Jazz & Poetry manifestations and a whole bunch of other elements, all beautifully amalgamated into a musical experience, which is fascinating from start to finish. Skolias manages to create aesthetic tension and his deep throaty voice has simply no parallels.

Kudos to Jan Sudzina and his fabulous Hevhetia label for releasing this music, which has no chance in a commercial environment in spite of its intrinsic values; this tribute to the Greek and in fact the entire Mediterranean group of cultures shows the diversity of the European Culture and the magnificent ingenuity of musicians, who are able to completely ignore imaginary boundaries. This is definitely a unique gem, which will award its listeners a stunning experience, full of surprises and delightful thrills.

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