Peering out from the corner of the rich musical tapestry of Scandinavia, we encounter Swedish-born pianist and composer Joel Lyssarides and the release of his debut album The Dreamer, an interesting work with unique influences making themselves present on this album. While we do get an occasional glimpse of the classically-tinted sound usually associated with Scandinavian jazz, giving us the imagery of white frozen landscapes patterned with dense forest and shimmering waterfalls, Lyssarides has chosen to adopt a more eastern sound for this album as if wanting to bring more warmth to his native home. This can be seen in the album’s opening track Semblance which gives us an intimate introduction to the composer and his personal approach towards his instrument. Opening with an intimate solo piano piece heavily drawing on the minimalism of composer Philip Glass, it relies on a basic melancholic theme to carry the tune. Another standout for this track is the composer’s use of over-dubs. This unique embellishment to the album’s opener brings to mind pianist Bill Evans and his groundbreaking work, Conversations With Myself.
As the album moves on, our frozen white paradise seems to have melted. The cold melancholy is replaced by simmering grooves and desert-streaked melodies reminiscent of Israeli jazz bass giant Avishai Cohen. This main influence makes itself present on many of the tracks on this album, the title track being a good example. Again there are Eastern-tinged melodies but accompanied by the hard-hitting drums that bring to mind fellow composer Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan, similar in feel to Hamsyan’s tune, Road Song. Overall this is a good album and worth the listen, however, with this debut release for record company Naxos, Lyssarides has definitely shown us his unique talent as a performer, but as a composer there is room for growth, and this album shows the promise for a bright future for this budding new talent.