Guitarist George Cotsirilos has nearly thirty years experience as a musician, working with acts as diverse as Etta James and Pharoah Sanders. He was also, with bassist Robb Fisher, a founding member of the San Francisco Nighthawks. Past Present
is the second album from the Cotsirilos Trio, following On The Rebop
(OA2 Records, 2005), and it's a graceful and sophisticated mix of standards and Cotsirilos originals.
Cotsirilos' playing is characterized above all by its warmth. Coupled with the equally warm and inviting playing of Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto, it ensures that this album is both welcoming and engaging. Fisher and Marabuto are crucial to the album's feel?both musicians play with a rich sound that acts as the perfect foundation for Cotsirilos' own rounded tones. The guitarist is especially adept at moving between single note runs and full chordal rhythms, especially notable on Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight." The runs themselves can at times be extensive?there's more than one good example on Cotsirilos' own "Franny's Jump"?but even on these lengthy and technically difficult cascades the guitarist's fingering is precise and light. This is a highly impressive player, no doubt about it.
The slower numbers showcase the trio's subtler skills. "Past Present," for example, is a beautifully lyrical tune which works so effectively because all three players ease back and listen to each other. Cotsirilos plays Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's "What Kind of Fool Am I?" solo, on classical guitar. It's a relatively brief version, but once again it displays Cotsirilos' ability to deliver a gentle and restrained melody. Another Cotsirilos original, "Café 4 Cats," was inspired by a Barcelona bar?presumably Els Quatre Gats, frequented by Pablo Picasso, among others. There's a Latin feel to the guitar and drums but Fisher's bass, with its slinky, elastic slides, is worth listening to on its own.
is an object lesson in tight and empathic trio performance as well as displaying the talents of three exceptional musicians. There can be few guitarists with Cotsirilos' purity of playing and warmth of tone around today and his trio deserves wider recognition.