2021 / Matina Coulouris
Review by Kathy Parsons
Chamomile School is the second album from pianist/composer Matina Coulouris. Released in 2021, the album's ten original piano solos are deeply expressive, telling stories without words as well as conveying deep emotions. The titles are intriguing, but don't really tell you much about what inspired the music - and that is certainly okay as it allows listeners to create their own stories based on their own experiences and interpretations of the music. The overall feeling of the album is melancholy and poignant, and Matina's playing style is wonderfully expressive, painting vivid images of people and places that have had an influence on her life in one way or another. If I had to to select a genre for the album, I'd call it neoclassical, but jazz influences can also be heard in this beautiful and very personal music.
Currently living in Northern California, Matina Coulouris grew up in a family of musicians and writers and was exposed to a broad range of music from a very young age. She started her classical piano studies at the age of six and continued studying both classical and jazz through college, earning her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from San Francisco State University and graduating magna cum laude. Quoting Matina: "I love many artists and enjoy many genres of music. My inspiration comes from experiences, places and the people I know and love." Her music makes that very clear!
Chamomile School begins with "August 30," a day that must have been more than difficult. Dark, mournful and very slow, it's a powerful start to the album. "Seiche" is a slow waltz tinged with mystery and an easy grace. "At the End of the Day, Lake Superior" feels dreamier and more introspective. "Raspberries" is lighter with a gentle lilt. Perhaps memories of picking berries and eating them on a summer afternoon? "I Wish You Were Here" feels very spontaneous and from the heart - perhaps a slow jazz improvisation to release some powerful emotions. "Song For Joyce" was composed in honor of Matina's mother and is a very loving tribute expressed with grace and elegance. The title track is subtitled "Where the sweetest things are learned" and expresses feelings of innocence and ease, moving at a relaxed tempo. "Anna Marie" was composed for a friend and returns to a sad, mournful expression of grief. Very slow and spare, the emotions are raw and very real. In the liner notes of the CD, it says under "Little Girl Flying": "It was more than a daydream." Hmmm - intriguing! Soft and gentle, there is an underlying air of mystery that makes me want to know more! "The Lucky One" comes with the reminder: "If you look closely, you will see how lucky you are." It's an important message in these challenging times and the music is very gently reassuring.
Chamomile School is a beautiful album from the first note to the last and I'm looking forward to hearing more music from Matina Coulouris. The album is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and streaming sites including Spotify. Check it out!
April 1, 2023