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Thursday, January 5, 2023

Julyen Hamilton/George Kokkinaris – The Road to Amarillo (self released, 2022)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

The duo of Julyen Hamilton on piano and poetry and George Kokkinaris on double bass defies categorization, making it hard for anyone who puts labels to music or has preconceived ideas about improvisation. Many times aggressive, so soulful and energetic, quite often leaving room for silence, while, when Hamilton is reciting his voice feels like a knife in water. His texts form another entity that enriches the experience of the listener and that is no small thing.

Kokkinaris takes a multiplicity of roles while playing (or probably better: performing) on The Road to Amarillo. From his fierce plucking the chords up to the gentle use of the bow, in order to accommodate the voice of Hamilton in reciting his poetry, there’s also the middle road of his amazing interaction with the piano. When they play together, I get the sense of togetherness, of one singular voice that defies the logic of the solo, of someone’s ego. Three parallel ways of playing, all of them conjured along the way and in unison with his fellow musician. Hamilton plays, equally, more than one role on the cd. While his piano playing is mostly full of tension, grasping the listener from the very beginning, his poetry is, accordingly, passionate.

Commenting about roles, their music (on this cd at least) engulfs a theatricality, presenting images and sparking the imagination of the listener to create his/her’s own. Music is definitely a non verbal way of communication and both musicians try to take advantage of this by presenting a multi-dimensional audio world. This is the way I feel when I listen to good music, whatever that means: an audio world of multiple dimensions where I can find solace in. The Road to Amarillo is a small adventure of this kind.


Check it out here: