Mama Luma is a free jazz/improv trio from Thessaloniki, Greece consisting of Christos Yermenoglou on drums, Pavlos Pavlidis on alto sax and Haris Agoritsas on tenor sax and electric guitar. On this self-titled cassette their sound is expanded into a quartet with the addition of Illias Fillaridis on piano.
Any way you see it - as a trio or quartet - Mama Luma have a rough path to follow. Their choice of playing this kind of music in a country shredded to pieces by austerity - with a left government that nullified the last hopes of the majority - is a hard one. Why? Because, basically, almost no one cares.
Very few are taking into account the way Mama Luma have absorbed both traditions in free playing. They incorporate the energy and pathos of free jazz from the other side of the Atlantic, while in their music you will find the never-ending search for non-linear progression of European improvisation. Well, they do seem to enjoy it!
Mama Luma’s music is definitely structured (or, better, balanced) around Yermenoglou’s percussion skills. While the other two seem to move in and out of focus, he stands – even at his freest moments – audibly in the middle of their sound. With Fillaridis joining in the added piano brings a second point of focus. The feeling you get from this recording from 2014 is a similar sense of the urgency to the first generation of European free jazz. The audio quality – so suitable for a cassette – isn’t the best you can find, but it adds up to the aforementioned feeling.
The louder parts are saturated by this audio quality. You kind of feel like you have to lean towards your cassette player and try harder to listen. This kind of audio hiss and lo-fi noise felt very satisfying, certainly a piece of the whole experience. Their music – as also presented on a live setting – is not one of a linear progress but, on the contrary, one of highs and lows. I definitely enjoyed the fact that the piano is part of the whole noise aesthetic of the cassette.
Why buy this cassette? Because this is a free jazz quartet who is not taking itself seriously while they are trying to present their take of free jazz through a lo-fi noise aesthetic. If all the above are not enough for you, then I do not know what else to say…