By Philip Freeman | Published April 2022
Joel Lyssarides is a young Swedish pianist who is rapidly gaining renown, not just in Europe, where he was building a live performance career before the COVID-19 pandemic began, but on streaming music services, where his compositions are perfect for playlists with titles like “Peaceful Piano,” “Chilled Jazz” and “Jazz For Study.” His playing is technically flawless, reflecting his classical training at both the Södra Latin College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in his home country, and his simple, melodic compositions fit well into the subgenre of Nordic piano jazz. You could play them alongside the work of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Iro Haarla or any number of other artists.
Lyssarides seems like a romantic at heart, if the early track titles on Stay Now (“As Night Let Down Its Curtain,” “Sommarsnow,” “Cloudberry Hill”) are any indication. But there’s also a spiritual aspect, as evidenced by titles like “Gowns Of Dark,” “Procession” and “St. Joseph.” This isn’t really reflected in the music, though. There’s a gradual rise in energy level over the course of the first two or three tracks, but they all blend together into what feels like a single performance. This is an album that sets a mood and sustains it. Lyssarides’ playing always focuses on the same qualities: rippling, repetitive patterns that land somewhere between Bill Evans and Philip Glass, supported with unobtrusive patience by bassist Niklas Fernqvist and drummer Rasmus Blixt. It’s nice while it’s on, but quickly forgotten when it’s over.
Stay Now: As Night Let Down Its Curtain; Sommarsnow; Cloudberry Hill; Is There A Way; Gowns Of Dark; Procession; Chimera; Stay Now; Echoes; Down And Out; St. Joseph; The Last Verse. (42:32)
Personnel: Joel Lyssarides, piano; Niklas Fernqvist, bass; Rasmus Blixt, drums.
Ordering Info: actmusic.com