The first album of Mode Plagal is an enjoyable mix of traditional Greek music tunes jazz and soul that transforms itself continuously, without ever stopping being accessible to the listener. Popular traditional music riffs from Florina and Thrace followed by jazz solos and constantly moving percussion are the foundation. But the music does not stop there and keeps on exploring the music borders. This album is a milestone in the history of Greek jazz.
Modern Drummer - April 1997
First, let's get past the lovely chauvinistic surprise that there is a bracing jazz and progressive rock scene in northern Greece. Mode Plagal is hipper than any new American record I've heard in a long time.
Blending jazz, funk and a dash of new age color with Greek folk music (and the seamless "odd" meters that have confounded lesser civilizations for centuries), the group makes a case for fusion that might have saved the genre twenty years ago. Working mostly without a bass player (guitartist Kleon Antoniou fills both chairs admirably) and evoking a utopian ensemble that could include Cecil Taylor, Gary Husband and the master drummers from half a dozen African villages, Mode Plagal takes traditional dances and carols from Macedonia and Thrace and grooves them to death. Their own forms are equally engaging: "Somebody Is Falling (Outside My Window)" sounds like a tango class taken over by the Tonny Williams Lifetime.
The hour-long CD, boldly improvised and utterly without filter, was recorded with sumptuous, edgy, pristins clarity. Drummer Takis Kanellos shines throughout: His drum sound is expansive, his wilder cymbals enjoy equal time with more conventional metals, his swingin fills get right to the point, and his patterns combine power and aggression with casual elegance.
On a recent visit to Thessaloniki, Billy Cobham listened to a number of Greek jazz albums. This is the one he bought.