Monos (Slow & Steady Records, 2022) album review
by John Mori for Downtown Music Gallery
Arriving in New York via San Francisco, CA., bassist-composer extraordinaire Nick Panoutsos has distinguished himself by employing a combination of imaginative improvisational skills, remarkably big ears, and a beautifully rich and evocative upright bass tone and technique. With "Monos", his debut solo bass recording, all previously outlined accolades and characteristics are brought into complete fruition. Inspired by the Greek folk and pop melodies passed down from his "yia-yia" (grandmother) whilst coming of age in San Jose, Mr. Panoutsos transforms and or reinterprets these melodies with robust depth, imagination and genuine affection.
Beginning with "Theios" Mr. Panoutsos outlines a fundamental yet delicate theme rich in spirit and aching pathos. His masterful use of glisandi, nuance and resonant articulation is extraordinary; a welcoming hand which extends throughout all eight gorgeous and artful vignettes. Mr. Panoutsos juggles the myriad musical constructs of melody, harmony, and rhythm with equal aplomb and sensitivity; forming a complete yet open landscape where parts interchange and support each other, sometimes independently, sometimes all at once. On "Tis Triantafillas ta Filla (The Leaves of the Rose)", Mr. Panoutsos' bass "sings" this traditional melody with all the delicacy and thoughtfulness of a poet contemplating just the right turn of a phrase. The original composition "Smokey Says" is a picturesque tribute to the inspiring Santa Cruz mountains at the peak of summer; it's theme building and building..layer upon layer of motivic development. The "solo" instrumental setting is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding contexts for both performer and audience. With "Monos" Nick Panoutsos contributes an evocative, virtuosic yet approachable stunning addition to this rich legacy..highly recommended! - John Mori for Downtown Music Gallery