It is rare that one hears a Swedish jazz musician that plays so that you begin to groove in your seat. Maybe once every decade. Now is that time again. Joel's compositions are little masterpieces along with a virtuosity and timing I haven't heard for a long time in Sweden, if ever. You feel good.
- Johan Norberg
Uppsala Nya Tidning
"Jazz at it's highest level"
Joel Lyssarides Trio
Uppsala Concert Hall
February 8, 2019
Joel Lyssarides trio performed lyrical jazz of highest level at the Uppsala Konserthus on Friday. Per A F Åberg believes that it was something incredibly unique. Joel Lyssarides' début-CD last autumn, "Dreamer", received eager and expansive praise from many critics. No one hesitates to speak of the "promising" young pianist, for here has the ready jazz musician progressed. Even though this is his first album Joel Lyssarides is no new-comer. From the past five to six years he has a long list of accomplishments, both as a classical pianist, jazz pianist and composer. But at the same time he is still on his way somewhere. A fast-track in reviews of the début-album saw his associations go sky-high: Esbjörn Svensson, Bobo Stensson, Jan Johansson, Dave Brubeck, and some thought classical composers like Schubert. In my opinion, Lyssarides has something very unique about him. Throughout Lyssarides' compositions, the piano is given space to thrive, or often the bass waves beautiful melodies without ever seeming to start or stop on a warp of broken piano chords, with journeys in improvisation on all of the instruments. He has an inclination to let the compositions run in 3/4 time, which also gives the slowest of them a nice sway. The concert on Friday evening included much material from "Dreamer". Initially, it was promised by Lyssarides that the trio would play the entire album for the concert. So it was of course, not - but better, because it is obviously more fun in a live concert to hear fewer songs but more content; longer intermezzos, more solo-improvisations, and, in this case, often a long coda (codas are a Lyssarides speciality; his songs are over when he decides that they are). The songs that made the greatest impression were "Meditation", a slow song, an extended version of "Silent Agreement" that Niklas Fernqvist had a large role in, "Björninnan", a melody by C J L Almquist that Lyssarides' father used to sing to him while going to sleep - incredibly beautiful and heartfelt for the solo piano, and the masterpiece "Umbra", a song-like melody that made the audience begin to sway up-tempo until it came to a dramatic finish. After the album's title-song "Dreamer" came to an end - the catchy song "Self Portrait" made us wonder why this was the first time we had heard it. It commanded both a calm and a catchy feel, and is maybe the key to who Lyssarides really is. With intimate music-making with his collaborators, Niklas Fernqvist on bass and Rasmus Svensson Blixt on percussion, lyrical jazz at its highest level is created, and I wait with excitement to hear how it will develop.
- Per A F Åberg
Joel Lyssarides began playing the piano when he was four years old and at twenty-five he is an extremely talented and multi-faceted pianist. On his first album he takes us, in collaboration with Niklas Fernqvist on double bass and Rasmus Svensson Bilxt on drums, on a dizzying journey into his music. Even though the concept of jazz is a very extensive one, it is too narrow of a description for what one listens to on "Dreamer". Joel Lyssarides shows off all his range and tricks with clear elements of jazz, a tone of Swedish melancholy and overall western art-music. The Lyssarides trio boldly takes on the task of interpreting his compositions and performs with utmost virtuosity. In and with this début the Swedish jazz trio can definitely measure itself against international giants of contemporary jazz trio like Phronesis and the Finnish Aki Rissanen. It is complex, beautiful, fascinating and very, very good. If you haven't already: Listen to Lyssarides!
"26 - year - old pianist Joel Lyssarides, has, despite his age, been a part of many prestige - filled collaborations, including with Benny Andersson, Nils Landgren, Anne Sofie von Otter, Silvana Imam and Blacknuss. Now arriving is his long-awaited début album - that considerably impresses. Joel has written all of the songs, except two: "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Disney's 1940's film "Pinocchio", and "Longing For Labrador", that Joel's bassist Niklas Fernqvist stands behind with drummer Rasmus Svensson Bilxt. Joel's classical training shines through on several tracks, especially "Semblance", sometimes reminding one of the legend Jan Johansson - not least in the title-track "Dreamer". But mostly I associate his music with excellent Israeli jazz - star Shai Maestro and Avishai Cohen; and one who has experienced Shai Maestro in "Perdido" here in Ö-vik in 2013 then understands what bright music Lyssarides' songs come from. The very best track is "Self Portrait" - the best Swedish jazz - release of the year?
Impressive CD-début with an interesting and characteristic jazz trio" Pianist Joel Lyssarides, a new name to me - but has however, existed on the jazz scene for some time. At seven years of age he listened to a recording of Charlie Parker's "Blue Bird". "There was something about that recording that was so wonderfully easy to absorb" says Joel Lyssarides on the release sheet of his début-disc "Dreamer". He has studied music at the Södra Latin high school and at the Royal College of Music, both in Stockholm, Joel's hometown. He has been awarded several accolades for his playing. The "Jazzkatten" award as "Newcomer of the Year" and lately the Bengt-Säve Söderbergh scholarship. The music on this début-album are mostly original compositions, except for a title by the trio's bassist Niklas Fernqvist - "Longing For Labrador" and the famous "When You Wish Upon A Star" from the pens of Leigh Harline and Ned Washington. Responsive and tasteful drummer Rasmus Svensson Blixt, together with said bassist Niklas Fernqvist and with Joel Lyssarides offer such a lyrically interesting, earnest and charismatic jazz trio that appeals in every way. One can draw parallels with past Swedish pianists and trio's like E.S.T as well as Bobo Stenson that come closest to the experience of "Dreamer". What took to me the most were the ballades. "Umbra" and "Trancedence" are particularly beautiful ballades played with a pensive feeling and with emotion - also done in "When You Wish Upon A Star", with beautiful playing. The initial fugue-like "Semblance", followed by "Guadalquivir", and with hypnotic playing in "Self Portrait", which also took my ear with its beautiful intellect, curious listening and crisp playing. The soft beautiful finishing hook is both interestingly inclusive and nice-listening. Oh, what an impressive trio début Joel Lyssarides has made.
Joel Lyssarides - Dreamer When Joel Lyssarides played Esbjörn Svensson's compositions at Stockholm's culture festival some weeks ago, one noticed two things: that his piano playing and composure has a strong influence from Svensson, and that he seems like a Svensson in the making, both as an instrumentalist and as a composer. On his début-album "Dreamer" - he works with Niklas Fernqvist on bass and Rasmus Svensson Blixt on drumkit. All eleven pieces, except two, are by Lyssarides and have English titles, which will help the jump to an international career like Esbjörn Svensson's. And will have a definite breakthrough in Germany. The firm introductory melodies in "Semblance" testifies his classical training. It sounds like a gothic theme from a Tim Burton film. There are also elements of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. The second track, "Guadalquivir", breathes e.s.t. Maybe too much, like the title track. Lyssarides' musical self portrait, "Self Portrait", has a nice tempo, as does "Umbra". One of the album's best tracks is Niklas Fernqvist's seven-year-old composition "Longing For Labrador". The album cover must get a mention: a cool picture by Alain Longeaud shows a naked man diving into a swimming pool reflecting the Milky Way above. The trees are tall and green but also somewhat menacing and dystopian. I am reminded of von Trier's film "Melancholia" - the desperate dreaming and rescue in the final scenes. Interesting piano trio music is mixed. A holy blend of influences: a jazz basis with rock, art-music, American and tango pillars. But on these pillars there is also capital and ornaments consisting of oriental scales in semitones and quartertones. Lyssarides has Greek heritage and it is interesting how he picks up its musical tradition and technique, as a bridge-builder between the East and the West.
Kulturdelen: Sten Wistrand "
'CD: "Dreamer" by Joel Lyssarides'
Joel Lyssarides: Dreamer (Prophone records/Naxos)
Joel Lyssarides (piano), Niklas Fernqvist (double bass), Rasmus Svensson Blixt (drums)
Rating: 4 stars
Release date: 24th August 2018 After having collaborated on Kristin Amparo's "A dream", Joel Lyssarides makes his recording début with an album under the name of "Dreamer". The too oftenly-used phrase "promising début" sounds silly in this context. Joel Lyssarides is barely "promising". He is already a full-fledged jazz pianist and songwriter. Actually, the 26-year-old has been active for ten years and has played with both Silvana Imam as well as with Anne Sofie von Otter, which says something about his versatility. He delivers in all of the compositions and also surprises with a really delicate version of "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Disney's "Pinocchio". According to the press, Lyssarides has been influenced by Flamenco and American music, by Scriabin and Piazzolla and by the "European-Greek vein with Oriental chromaticism". The latter can confirm why one would sometimes find a relationship between the composer Eleni Karaindrou and with the jazz pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos. The amount of flamenco and tango nuevo one hears on this record I cannot say, if you do not hear a little Piazzolla piece in "Self Portrait". Rather it is more of a dose of French melancholy that could make a French film director lift the handset and discuss a contract. And yes, something happens that even makes the ghost of Jan Johansson float over the piano. For his recording début, Lyssarides has established himself in the classic jazz trio domain and associates himself with Niklas Fernqvist on bass and Rasmus Svensson Blixt on drums. They are obviously excellent together. But I do not think that they are walking in the footsteps of Esbjörn Svensson, Bobo Stenson, Per Henric Wallin or Lars Jansson - as there are now some new Swedish pioneers within the genre. Lyssarides and Friends has its own style and its own idiom. A lot of it if melodically soft and just plain beautiful, but there is also an element of a strong, rhythmic drive. At the bottom of it, Lyssarides is portrayed as a romantic, but a romantic who is curious at the same time. In the next album one can wish for the trio to venture out into more dangerous fields and to challenge its comfort-zone. But "Dreamer" is overall an unusually mature and well-rounded record début which I have already listened to several times without tiring and which I am completely sure I will come back to.
Uppsala nyheter (Uppsala Times)
"The Expressive Touch of the Joel Lyssarides trio at the UKK"
In August, Joel Lyssarides released his fantastic album "Dreamer". Now he is out with his trio playing music from the album and also giving us a taste of what to expect on the next one. On the album Lyssarides plays with Niklas Fernqvist on bass and Rasmus Svensson Blixt on drums. The arrangement is the same for this evening's concert. We are about to see the three musicians play together with a great affinity. Uppsala Jazz Club is the host of tonight's concert. The club's President Emil Ingmar, also a gifted pianist, introduced tonight's concert with a short presentation. Joel Lyssarides introduced the band and told us that we would get to hear the whole album of "Dreamer" as well as new material. It opens with "Guadalquivir" with dreamy piano playing from Lyssarides. Sometimes he dampens the notes on the grand piano with his left hand inside of it. The bass and drums soon come in. The music captivates me from the first moment. There is something very special about Joel Lyssarides' piano playing. He has such feeling and such a nice flow with the notes. He is very technically skilled but has an overall feeling and soul in his playing. In the bassist Niklas Fernqvist and the drummer Rasmus Svensson Bilxt he has found two worthy collaborators. The three musicians often have eye-contact with eachother. Joel sits so that he is turned towards the other two. They look defiantly at eachother on certain notes. Sometimes, Niklas Fernqvist plays with a bow on the double bass which makes it sound almost like a cello. Rasmus Svensson Bilxt's rhythmical drumming is very melodic and swings a lot. In certain sections of the music there is lots of samba rhythm. There are many tempo changes with delicate piano solos to speedy pieces in high tempo. There are elements of classical music and folk music in Joel Lyssarides' compositions. He speaks of how in one of the first radio interviews he ever did he was asked about how he writes his songs. The radio presenter later revealed that his personal favourite from the album was "Longing For Labrador". That happens to be the only piece on the album that Niklas Fernqvist wrote. In another anecdote Lyssarides explained that he is the youngest child in a large set of siblings with an age-span of 20 years. When Joel was a child, he would hear fairy tales and lullabies that his father recited to him and his siblings and he would listen to folk music and poetry by Felin and Ekelöf. This has probably been an influence to why folk is in his own blood and in the blood of his compositions. As an extra number we get to hear "Self Portrait", a complex piece that swings like a clock after a nice introduction on the keyboard by Lyssarides. When he later "duels" with his piano playing with Rasmus Svensson Bilxt on drums it is like musical magic. All three musicians are very attuned to one another, but that moment had the strongest impact. When I got a snack with Joel after the concert he told me that this was the first time that they had played live together in 5 months. I can only imagine what wonders await this trio in the future. When I hear Joel Lyssarides' flowing piano playing I also come to think of another giant, Jan Johansson. Joel Lyssarides thanks the kind, attentive audience and P-A Westin. A bit later Emil Ingmar and some other musicians have a jam session up on the stage. Uppsala Times photographer Morgan Jansson and I go out into the slush to come home and work on the pictures and article from the wonderful musical experience we just witnessed.