The best ECM records over the years have been those that straddle a very fine line, never seeming too ethereal, but also never turning so chaotic and avant garde that the listener becomes alienated. ACHIRANA so delicately strikes that balance that it just might find itself on a shortlist of ECM classics in the making. This cross-cultural meeting features Greek piano prodigy Vassilis Tsabropoulos fronting a trio with Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen and British drummer John Marshall. While trained in conservatories around the world as a classical artist and composer, the pianist’s flair for improvisation and depth of feeling within the jazz idiom come as a great revelation in this debut.
With originals by all three trio members on the bill, the mood shifts with each piece, although there are implicit tempos and Marshall keeps a regular beat happening throughout. In the classical tradition, Tsabropoulos cultivates each theme over a series of variations, while the undercurrent provided by Andersen and Marshall percolates below. Prototypical of the whole, "Fable" aptly tells a story with well-planned moments of tension and release, Andersen’s plush bass tones and Marshall’s cymbal splashes made even more palpable thanks to ECM’s predictably faultless engineering.