Protoleia

Walter Kolosky only writes reviews of music that he highly recommends :-)
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Protoleia  Mahlis-Panos Project   Greeksea -M-01

Dimitris Mahlis :  Oud, Nylon String Guitar
Anastasios “Toss” Panos : Drums, Percussion
Dan Lutz : Acoustic and Electric Bass


Protoleia is one of the most revelatory acoustic fusion albums I have heard in some time. Oud player Dimitris Mahlis and drummer/percussionist Anastasios Panos are both Greek. It stands to reason any project in which they lead would take advantage of their  strong cultural musical foundation, but these two fellows, along with bassist Dan Lutz, have passports stamped by many international influences. The full spectrum of all of the Western and Eastern forms are in the blend and  presented with such feeling and verve that one can’t help but get caught up in the sonic globe trekking.

Mahlis, who also plays guitar on the album, wrote most of the compositions, which are full of the exotic ethnic motifs those of us who like spice with our music really enjoy. For descriptive purposes, some reference points can be found. Those familiar with the bassist Jonas Hellborg collaborations with Tony Williams (The Word) and Ginger Baker (Unseen Rain) will have a leg up in understanding the approach. Some of Hellborg’s other forays (Aram of Two Rivers) into Middle Eastern music could serve as precursors as well. Furthermore, coming entirely out of right field for music of this genre; the band can sound at times like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones!  This is especially so on the title cut. Purposeful or not, that occasional newgrass element can give this mostly serious music a lighthearted charm. 

To top it all off, these guys are really good jazz musicians. Their  creativity and sympathetic interplay are obvious from moment one. They really know how to groove a number. (Hear the deep rut dug on "Sunday's Proposal.")

I can’t think of a more pleasant, yet thought-provoking, musical experience than to have the Mahlis-Panos Project take your ears on a worldwide tour.
It's like taking a vacation for the cost of a download or CD.
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