Looking Up at Trees Vol. 1

Nikos Syropoulos is an award-winning pianist, composer, and teacher based in Portland, OR and Los Angeles. A three-time recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award, Nikos has gained national recognition for his original music and has toured internationally. He is the leader of the jazz chamber ensemble, Rozalía, and has independently released three self-produced albums. Named in honor of his late Greek grandmother, Rozalía features Nikos’ original compositions written for piano and strings, drawing upon his main musical influences, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Keith Jarrett, and Egberto Gismonti.

Nature plays a large part in influencing Nikos’ music, and in 2017 he created a music video series entitled, Looking Up at Trees to explore this connection. Looking Up at Trees is an ever-growing collection of short, beautiful videos of trees, accompanied by original musical vignettes inspired by each individual species. He recently recorded a Looking Up at Trees album, to be released in late 2019.

Nikos thrives working collaboratively with other artists, including those in other media such as dance, theater, and film. In 2013 he composed and produced the music for the original dance performance, Gone, choreographed by and featuring tap dancer, Melinda Sullivan. The work saw its premiere in New York City at the Alvin Ailey Citi Group Theater. From 2015-2017 Nikos and Melinda continued their collaboration, creating Portrait of Rhythm, a project featuring Nikos’ original compositions for Rozalía and tap dance, fusing chamber jazz with traditional South American and Spanish rhythms. Further, Nikos is currently working on a duo album for cello and piano featuring cellist, Hillary Smith, to be released in 2020.

Nikos teaches the Taubman Approach to piano, a comprehensive study of alignment and movement at the instrument that provides for the overcoming of injury and technical limitations. He came to the approach following his own playing-related injuries in 2009 and began studying with his mentor, Robert Durso, a master Taubman teacher and co-founder/senior director of the Golandsky Institute. Currently Nikos is enrolled in the Golandsky Institute's Professional Training Program. Nikos is also an alumnus of the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music where he received his bachelor’s degree in jazz piano performance and studied privately with Alan Pasqua, Russell Ferrante, John Clayton, and John Daversa.

Looking Up at Trees Vol. 1 is Nikos’ 4th independently released album of original music featuring his jazz chamber ensemble, Rozalía. Expanding on his ongoing music video project of the same name, Looking Up at Trees Vol. 1 presents seven of Nikos’ favorite vignettes from the original series as fully arranged pieces. Each piece is inspired by and named after a particular species of tree.

Released November 15, 2019

Nikos Syropoulos: Piano/Organ
Sam Gendel: Soprano/Alto Sax
Vikram Devasthali: Trombone
Rhea Fowler: Violin
Hillary Smith: Cello
Chris Ahn: Cello
Jonathan Richards: Bass
Alex Boneham: Bass
James Yoshizawa: Bódhran/Cajon/Bones/Cymbals/Shakers

Episode #210

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