We are excited to premiere the uncanny yet seductive sounds of “Secret Creek” by drummer & composer, Jan Van Angelopoulos. Taken for his incredible ‘Streams’ album, forthcoming on Teranga Beat.
Every song on ‘Streams’ sounds like it could tell a story or set a scene, and “Secret Creek” is no different. Angelopoulos provided a little narration, especially for us. “A walk along the creek you discovered by accident in the woods. The water is almost still yet constant, evolved, transformed, carrying within it all the stages of its cycle . From steam to cloud, from rain to ice. The everlasting preparation to flow again.”
Drummer-composer Yannis Angelopoulos, aka Jan Van, is a well known figure on the Athens jazz and improv scene, whose intense drum work you may have come across on Dave De Rose’s Agile Experiments, but his resume stretches back for a considerable and varied history.
Jan Van started as a drummer in clubs playing popular greek music (laïka) even before he was 18, a typical first step for a musician in Greece, getting his first taste of both the musical underground and the surrealistic atmosphere of the Geek laïka clubs. But turning 20, he started working as a roadie, installing drums, and it was then that he realised a drummer can be a musical director-producer and not just a session musician.
This realisation encouraged him to continue his musical education and in 1996 he went to study at the Rotterdam’s Conservatorium’s (Codarts) Jazz Department, where he stayed for seven years. Soon after his return to Athens he started wondering how to fuse jazz with laïkodimotiko (lumpen, popular music), something detectable in his recent discography.
Since the mid 2000s, Jan Van has worked on various jazz projects in Athens, even though the years preceding the 2010s were something of a tough period for the local scene, with limited live opportunities. And since 2010, Greece has famously been at the epicentre of the global financial crisis. In an already dysfunctional cultural system throughout the decade, culture eventually became a luxury. Following ten years of recession, in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed the efforts of the country that was struggling to recover and took away any remaining hope.
Under high psychological pressure, Jan Van had the idea of a jam session as a release for creative expression. At the same time, the particular concept of water and its properties were stuck in his mind. Water’s fluidity and momentum and the idea of a quiet streaming state, shaped the only concept he eventually shared with his fellow musicians before starting to play. The only reference he wanted them to have was ‘water’.
By the end of May, a few days after the end of the lockdown, Yannis gathered his group, featuring Paraskevas Kitsos on bass, Vangelis Stefanopoulos on piano and Fotis Siotas on violin, viol, and voice, in a studio and recorded a live session of spontaneous compositions and improvisations. During the session each musician took a step back to listen and give space to one another. None of the tracks were composed before the recording.
The result is a deep listen, organic beats with spiritual jazz vibes, sometimes exploring fusion with elements of the traditional Greek folk music known as demotika, which has interested Yannis since the start of his career, and often leaning towards cinematic atmospheres.
‘Streams’ will see release on vinyl and digital formats on the brilliant Teranga Beat label on June 11. Order now from Teranga Beats Bandcamp store, Coldcuts Hotwax, Forced Exposure (USA), Oye Records or most likely your regular store will have it in the coming weeks.