Flying Jazz Trio. Nostalgia is a marching rhythm colliding with a dreamy melody.
Walking around in the misty town, after the 4-hour bus drive from Athens to Volos, was a delight. The last day of autumn, chilly and crisp, was ready to give its place to winter. It was only a 10 minutes walking distance from the bus station to the bar. The way led through the old town and passed by the fish market, with a stroll-by the town hall, then straight towards the Municipal Conservatory. I later found out the town hall was designed by Dimitris Pikionis (1887-1968), renowned architect, and prolific painter of the 20th century, whose work had considerable influence on modern Greek architecture.
The concert I was about to attend at Volos’s iconic hotspot, Filippou Café Classique, was part of a larger series of gigs being held around Greece for the promotion of the Flying Jazz Trio’s latest musical venture, Nostalgia. This would be Stefanos Andeadis’s third album with his own compositions executed regally by himself on the guitar, and accompanied by George Kontrafouris on the Hammond organ and Vasilis Podaras on drums. Nostalgia included a sequence of tunes with thought provoking titles such as Soul lament, Blessing, Lullaby.
As I approached Filippou Café Classique I heard the smooth sound of drums floating into the night. I was slightly late for the beginning of the concert so I snuck in quietly and edged my way to the back without disturbing the atmosphere. The hall was full with people standing in every corner possible. I managed to grasp the last minutes of the Cain Song. And then, replete with a thick-bottomed tumbler of Glenfiddich in hand, I leaned against the “backstage” wall and journeyed into the next piece. There was a consecrated sensation flowing in the bar.
The venue, Filippou Café Classique, is housed in an intimate 40m2 stone building on a corner of the town’s commercial street. The building formerly hosted a cheese deli, but was now appealingly renovated into a coffee shop-bar that occasionally hosts live jazz shows. A piano, funky furniture, and a collection of contemporary art on the brick walls all paid homage to the wooden bar. There is a homey feeling about the place and the fact that the band is situated on the same level as the audience functions as seamless link between the musicians and the crowd.
The oratorical sound of the organ blended with Andreadis’s smooth harpsichords constructing the foggy sound of a memory. The track is framed by slick rhythmical sparkles creating Moments, a casted sheet of dust in an old house where moments of past happiness reside. No one talked, the audience seemed transfixed. An assemblage of devoted listeners lost in the fourth dimension.
The next tune, On the road, stirred the mood with some groove as they guided us towards the intermission.
While I sipped on another multi-awarded single malt whiskey, I had the chance to mingle, as well as have a chat with George Kontrafouris in my quest to extract more information about the project.
The band is based in Corfu, and have been touring around Greece, and abroad, for some years now. As Andreadis later confided, the Flying Jazz Trio was morphed in the Ionian University, starting as the pet project of the professors of the department of Music Studies. As the only institution in Greece that provides a full program of study in Jazz, it has gathered some of the greatest Greek jazz musicians.
It was enjoyable and insightful talking to these very down to earth players, and learning about the promising younger generations of jazz musicians incubating in the Ionian University. Even amid the struggles of recording and selling music, in the era of the internet, musicians still flock to the university.
On commencement of the second set, soft chords introduced us to Blessing. The next piece, Kontrafouris’s solo along with Podaras’s medium swing, felt like a warm hug. After that, “An intimate space of consciousness” was followed by Lullaby. Lullaby is a song that could be murmured by a father to his baby daughter, soft and engaging.
Nostalgia, derived from the Greek word νοσταλγία (ancient Greek. νόστος: nóstos, “journey” + ἄλγος: álgos, “pain”), the never-ending pain of longing to return to an anamnesis, a place where we possess innate knowledge and rediscover that knowledge within us.
Nostalgia was the last song of the album and so it was also the last song of the set. A marching rhythm colliding with a dreamy melody constructed this mutual interval. A melodious void that drew me to my own private room of nostalgic memories.
The trio was kind enough to play an encore so we wouldn’t have to stay there silent and volatile after this penetrating journey into Nostalgia.
The evening ended with some old-school blues, free flowing drinks and sharing of stories.
Some weeks later, after repeated and careful listening of the album I had the chance to talk to Stefanos Andreadis again. He told me that the band’s name, Flying Jazz Trio, and the album’s cover – Nostalgia with a bird flying high above – goes back in time.
It all started from a sketch on a little piece of paper twenty-something years ago, and it had to travel to Corfu to become a music project, and then some more years after that it became their third album. The trail of memoirs contemplated were formed into a song and then this song became the critical point that characterized a career. Nostalgia is the journey of a group of devoted musicians looking back at their never-ending love and enthusiasm for music. Nostalgia is life, it is soul, and it is jazz.
As I write this, I am listening to the album again. Traveling back, recollecting my mind’s fragments and re-entering the void, I embrace the cognizance of the mental and physical space we shared that last day of November, 2019, with the Flying Jazz Trio and the rest of the attendees at Filippou Café Classique.
The Flying Jazz Trio will be playing on January 25th, 2020 in the Jazz in Progress – Heraklion Jazz Festival 2020.