There are no straight lines, only curves — This is the conceptual basis of the debut album from the Dimitris Kakavoulis Quartet, captured in the recording studio over a decade ago, now released officially in collaboration with Thinkbabymusic Collective.
The quartet’s discernible style stems from several musical traditions, while undoubtedly derived from mid—to—late 20th century African American idioms, which themselves are an amalgamation of earlier and more traditional genres of various forms, there is a paradoxical element that renders through their sound; one that could be studied in the Western and European sense i.e. through music notation and theory, as has been the case in the academic industry, but also one that can be perceived as an oral tradition via the African culture. A live bearer of meaning and custom that is only communicated orally like it has been shown to occur in the wider African region in tribal culture, where written word has been absent for millennia and yet the cultural norms and existential suppositions survive in a vivid way, seemingly intact.
Composition is the vehicle through which one can unleash their creative potential and, though musical traditions, can serve to differentiate themselves from what has already been, and find their own voice. In improvised music, it is often thought that there is endless freedom and choice of what one may play at any given time, whether a progression, vamp, or orchestration; but in the true search for meaning, one will invariably choose the musical structure that they’ve committed to as its’ foundation, almost in a religious or ideological sense. For Dimitris Kakavoulis, this was communicated through original compositions finding their own unique means of expression.
The recording session came about unbeknownst to its members, having set out to record a demo in order to book a few live performances. One single studio session was booked for this purpose, a six-hour session in June of 2011, where they set up and tested for two hours, and left the remaining time purely to play and run takes. The band had only been together for a few months before that, but all the members had worked together before in various projects, the chemistry was there.
The session featured Dimitris Kollias on tenor saxophone, Dimitris Kakavoulis on piano, Pericles Trivolis on double bass and Leandros Fratnik on drums. In a meeting leading up to the session, the band was going over key points relating to the structure of the compositions where drummer Leandros, a man of few words, proclaimed: “I think we all know what to do”. This statement ultimately wrapped up what may be described as the main preparation for the session. Eight tracks were intended to be recorded that day, and one or two takes were eventually done of each composition, except for “Conviction in Blue” which was played three times. It was important to the band not to go through repetitive takes, not only did the time available not permit it, but the improvised sections would lose their most vital elements such as spontaneity, the element of surprise or self, and the creative energy of novel exploration.
The vibe was amazing and the execution was great. Shortly afterwards, it was decided this experience was to be turned into a release and include 7 of the 8 tracks recorded on that session. With no artistic or commercial direction, and no involvement from a record label or producer, the result was a self—produced and self—funded CD in 2012, with the cover art based on photographs by Fotini Romaliadou, shot in a strange cave somewhere in Cyprus. Ironically, the band never booked too many shows after this, and never managed to get the artistic support necessary to maintain the momentum created by this project. Other factors that contributed to this was the expatriation of Dimitris Kakavoulis for not less than 20 months.
However, a strange curve in the time—space realm would indeed become visible, despite the interval between the recording of this project and the present time, it appears that a meeting point was approaching between two separate entities without any previous knowledge of one another, preconception or foresight. The artist, Dimitris Kakavoulis, and Thinkbabymusic Collective; a label that has shown a true appreciation of the work, an honest comprehension of the musical and aesthetic concept, and a taste for sound. This release marks the beginning of a new collaboration that will serve as the springboard towards new projects of similar and diverse productions in the near future.
Dimitris Kakavoulis Quartet "Curves" 2023 Reissue out March 03 on CD Digipak and all major digital platforms.