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Harmonic Convergence by Nick Demopoulos Quartet

This wonderfully witty, swinging, post-bop-inspired quartet of guitarist Demopoulos, saxophonist/flautist Katisse Buckingham, bassist Mike Elizondo, and drummer Joel Alpers is exceptional. The guitarist is working with a new quartet now, though why he would walk away from these wonderful players is a mystery. Buckingham's sax lines often remind of George Adams, though Albert Ayler and David Lieberman influences abound, as well. As a flautist, there is a bit of a Sam Most influence at play. Having said all of that, he is a player who stands as his own man shoulder to shoulder with any reed players on the scene today. Elizondo has Pastorious elements in his arsenal and Alpers plays melodically like few players this side of Elvin Jones or Tony Williams. Demopoulos is a wizard, both as a composer (all tunes are his) and a blur of a guitarist. Like an early Larry Coryell and Tal Farlow blended together, he's as fleet-fingered as he is facile and quick- witted. He doesn't play fast for the sake of speed. It's as if there were a wealth of ideas bursting to get out before time expires.

"Necrosis" has an element of South American tropical breeze, with Buckingham's snaky lines painting a musical soundscape that mesmerizes. On "Anamorphosis" the group rides the rhythm like a Saturday at the races, working in tandem though vying for victory. Alpers and Elizondo underpin Demopoulos' brilliant discourse throughout and hang on for the dazzling Buckingham break. "Navarac" is the most clever number here, sounding mysteriously like a tune from Mr. Ellington's songbook with a reverse spelling. "Nothingness," with Buckingham on flute, is a beautiful, haunting melody over delicate drumming and imaginative bass work. "Journey To Cydonia" traverses tempos and time changes marvelously and seems to take a musical world tour in the process. Like Al Dimeola, Demopoulos has a facility for distilling a fat musical stylistic toolbox into jaw-droppingly tantalizing lines. The word 'brilliant' is insufficient. Like his bandmates, his is a name that begs wider recognition.

This is visual music. Music that begs the eye to close and the mind to be still. It is a musical journey that is exciting, well-paced and, pardon the cliché, simply brilliant. This tops my list for the best new music I've heard this year. Never mind that it was recorded (and apparently released) in 1997. Well worth searching out.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Nick Demopoulos Quartet
  • CD Title: Harmonic Convergence
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 1997
  • Record Label: Dem Dems Demos'
  • Rating: Five Stars
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