The Mahlis-Panos Project is the latest in a history of collaborations between Dimitris Mahlis and Toss Panos. Using their shared Greek heritage as a backdrop, a blending of eastern and western traditions is achieved which reaches new heights of musical adventurism. For the bold listener who takes the journey, the rewards are rich indeed.
Drummer Toss Panos is known worldwide as a unique voice on his instrument. Beginning to play at the age of 6, he had his first professional experience at age 10 playing in Greek nightclubs performing a variety of Greek music. Moving to Los Angeles was the next step in furthering his studies. Since then he has become an in demand drummer on the LA scene and beyond.
Some credits Include: John Scofield, Michael McDonald, Robben Ford, Draco Rosa, Larry Carlton, Beck, Sheryl Crow, Steve Lukather, Larry Goldings, Sting, Andy Summers, Jack Bruce, Mike Landau and many others...
Oudist, guitarist and composer Dimitris "Jimmy" Mahlis has become known in musical circles as an eclectic interpreter of many musical traditions. Having a thorough knowledge of both eastern and western musical theory, he has developed a playing style on several instruments which is both earthy yet intricate. As a composer, his pieces have set a standard in cross cultural pollination.
Some credits include: A.R. Rahman, Ramesh Misra, Airto Moreira, Freddie Hubbard, Hassan Hakmoun, Niyaz, Kevyn Lettau, Thanassis Papakonstantinou, Dionysios Savvopoulos, and Axiom Of Choice.
In live performance, the Mahlis-Panos Project exhibits their commitment to spontaneous artistic explorations. Their debut release, Protoleia, captures this artistic aesthetic fully.
Dimitris “Jimmy” Mahlis is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in Los Angeles. His skills on oud, guitar and other stringed ethnic instruments - including the Turkish saz, joombush and Greek bouzouki - have led him into a rich variety of performing and recording experiences.
Dimitris has had the good fortune to receive training in both Western and Eastern musical systems. His Father was a Byzantine cantor in the Greek Orthodox Church which opened his soul from an early age to the riches of Eastern music. He studied Western musical theory and composition at Berklee College of Music. His style is known as both soulful and original. He currently studies oud with Ustad Necati Celik from Istanbul, Turkey.
Mahlis explains, "The oud is one of the oldest known plucked string instruments with a history that dates back 2,500 years or more. Played primarily in all the countries of the Middle East as well as Greece and Turkey, it is played in a variety of styles reflecting both classical and folk traditions. For me, studying the oud has been a spiritual labor of love that has been both humbling and rewarding. There is a quality to the instrument that evokes the origin of sound and vibration and our mystical connection with both."
Dimitris has performed and toured throughout the world with artists including A.R. Rahman, Axiom of Choice, Dionisis Savopoulos, Freddie Hubbard, Thanasis Papakonstantinou, Airto Moreira, Kevyn Lettau, Russell Ferrante and Mamak Khadem.
As a composer, his pieces have set a standard in cross-cultural pollination. He also composes the majority of the music for his own original projects, which include: Road Poem, the latest of his four albums with Wahid; the new jazz release, Protoleia, with Mahlis-Panos Project; Prana and Prana (trio version); and Aphrodite Moves On with his electric quartet, Babaghanoush.
Some recent recording credits with others include: Lal Meri with Lal Meri; O Samanos with Dionisis Savopoulo-Thanasis Papakonstantinou; Eternal with Huun Huur Tu and Carmen Rizzo; Vino with Robi Draco Rosa; and Jostejoo with Mamak Khadem. Dimitris also contributed music to director Michael Apted's documentary The Power of the Game and is featured on the soundtracks of the films Argo and Curse of the Titans II.
For the many reasons illustrated above, Dimitris Mahlis has become known in international musical circles as a truly unique and eclectic interpreter of many Eastern and Western musical traditions.
Dimitris Mahlis is a proud endorser of GHS Strings; Mustafa çöpçüoglu and Kurschner oud strings.
Observations from Dimitris Mahlis, composer
“The Feeling of New” I wanted to convey something that was both moody yet anticipatory. When the melody came out, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Almost like a very subtle surprise. Tasso came up with cool groove underneath, quasi-rhumba-ish[?] and away we go!
“Protoleia” This was a straight up bumping, gypsyesque burner. I wrote the melody about four years ago, then put it away. I brought it out when Tasso and I were working on the beginning stages of this project and just playing duets. It was on fire from the start. The melodic structures come out of a Middle Eastern makam called "Nikriz". The improv starts there then moves on out.
“Sunday's Proposal” A cool 7/8 vibe, the piece shifts tonal centers in a very fluid way. It's also in a key that's not usual for oud but that's where it laid the best. The cymbal work is what I keyed off of mostly when we were recording this tune.
“Blue Ballroom” One of my favorite pieces on the disc! “East meets west” is a phrase that has been used a lot but I think we truly achieved it here. I love the way the harmonies came through, the interplay between Dan and Toss. The modern Elvin Jones feel that Toss conveys is truly a joy.
“Dimi's Kurdi” I wrote this piece a few years back. Kurdi is the name of a Middle Eastern makam originating in Iran, Iraq and thereabouts. Its a mode that the Kurdish people used a lot, hence the name. We take liberties in the blowing; the whole track is on fire from the beginning.
“Interplanetary Kisses” Based on a rhythm played in several countries of the Middle East and the Levant called a curcuna [choorchoona] and married to an Indian raga in the main melodic section called Puriya. We had loads of fun recording this! The title comes from Pablo Neruda's poem from his ''Book Of Questions.” I thought it was appropriate...
“Masqualero” I've always liked this Wayne Shorter melody, simple yet not, with all kinds of harmonic implications that can be played...or not! There is not enough space to describe how much we all admire Wayne and thank him for the gifts that he has shared with us. This is probably the first time this piece has been recorded with an oud leading the melody. I think everyone rose to the occasion on this one so much so that it was hard to pick which take we would use. So many of them were good!
“Thalassa” A traditional piece from the Greek islands with a gorgeous melody. I added some harmonies to it and Tasso and I recorded it very simply. Cajon and oud, and an acoustic guitar overdub. We play it here instrumentally but the song is very melancholy as it talks about a young widow who has lost her husband to the sea.
ANASTASIOS "TOSS" PANOS
Anastasios Mario Panos, “Toss,” was born in the old country, Greece, and having been born on Valentine's Day was destined to possess a heartfelt groove. Add to that an upbringing with a strong family bond, an incredible work ethic, and that famous Greek zest for life - rhythmic celebratory music, robust food, and that all or nothing approach.*
He came to San Diego, California with his family at an early age. At seven, Toss started playing the drums. In family jam sessions with his guitar-playing uncle, the two rocked to the songs of Eric Burdon and The Animals. Since Greek music was always heard in the house, Toss’ first professional gig at age10 was playing traditional folk music at a Greek nightclub. Both types of music would remain influences for the rest of his life. For the next nine years, Toss played in funk, rock, country, blues and progressive rock groups around San Diego County.
At age 19 he began formal studies at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles and after graduation relocated to LA permanently and began a long-term teaching position there. At the same time he performed on jingles, movies, session work, and as the house drummer for TV shows such as “The Dennis Miller Show” and “The Roseanne Show.”
Panos has played on many sessions and tours over the years over a wide array of genres including: Robi “Draco” Rosa, Robben Ford, John Scofield, Michael McDonald, Beck, Anthony Hamilton, Chris Cornell, Oz Noy, Skunk Baxter, Steve Lukather, Chely Wright, Ruben Blades, Jose Feliciano, Juan Luis Guerra, Larry Carlton, Mike Landau, Faith Hill, Mike Keneally, Lyle Workman, Paul Rodgers, Kevin Gilbert, Stephen Stills, Mel Torme, Jeff Babko, Mike Elizondo, John Daversa, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Andy Summers, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Young, Steve Vai, Eric Burdon, Zucchero, Peter Himmelman, Jude Cole, Christian Castro, Hans Zimmer, Chris Beck, Enrique Bunbury, Ednita Nascario and many others.
In 2012 he released his first band CD, Protoleia, as the Mahlis-Panos Project. With oudist/guitarist Dimitris “Jimmy” Mahlis they have unexpectantly fused eastern and western elements into jazz fusion. Wayne Shorter's “Masqualero” and the traditional Greek arrangement “Thalassa” are the only non- originals of the eight tracks, which are receiving excellent press notices on their indie Greeksea label.
Toss Panos is the owner of Tossimos Recording Studio and is still on visiting faculty for Musicians Institute and Los Angeles Music Academy (LAMA).
He is also a proud endorser of DW, Paiste, Regal Tip and Aquarian.
Hardware: 5 cymbal boom stands; 1 rack tom stand; 1 9000 series HH;1 long cable hat; 1 stationary closed HH; 2 snare stands; 1 round throne; DW 9000 strap double pedal; Regal Tip 8A drum sticks
Heads: Aquarian American Vintage kick and snare; Jack DeJohnette toms
Cymbals: Paiste 22" Master Dark Ride; 15” or 16” 2002/Masters Hybrid; 20” and 19” Dark Energy crashes; 22” Sound Formula China
*Quote courtesy of Rich Mangicaro/(c)2011 Drumhead Magazine
George W. Harris/Jazz Weekly reviews Protoleia
Mixing Mediterranean sounds with a chamber-like jazz feel, Dimitris Mahils brings his oud and guitar together with Anastasios Panos’s percussion and Dan Lutz’s bass to create some Aegean jewels of sounds. The originals like “The Feeling of New” and “Dimi’s Kurdi” have an elastic warmth; just enough use of space to make you appreciate the interplay between everyone involved. The lyrical melodies such as “Sunday’s Proposal” and the title track are like gentle dances that keep your feet moving. A take of Wayne Shorter’s “Masqualero” is quite intriguing as well, and the traditional Greek tune “Thalassa” is as embracing as a dip in a Cretan beach. As enjoyable as calamari, lemon, and tzadziki sauce.
Franz A. Matzner/All About Jazz reviews Protoleia
Incorporation of non-traditional instruments into jazz can produce mixed results. It takes a gifted player to either apply jazz traditions to an unusual instrument or in reverse integrate the traditions and unique sounds of an instrument with the structures and conventions of jazz. In the wrong hands, or deployed for the sake of exoticism, the effect can be trite; when done properly, the outcome can open up new horizons. With Protoleia, the Mahlis-Panos Project accomplishes the latter, using oud, drums and bass to combine musical traditions to impressive effect.
An ancient instrument dating back at least 5,000 years and originating in the Middle East, the oud has a rich history, particularly in Iraq, where its stature is an integral part of the nation's cultural identity. A fretless ancestor of the guitar, it is both flexible and possessed of a distinctively emotive acoustic. On Protoleia, Dimitris Mahlis takes full advantage of these characteristics to introduce a compelling atmosphere of intricate designs, shifting rhythms, and filigreed compositions. Certainly, not every tune on the album hits this mark, with some feeling directionless or lackluster. But the majority present a welcome melding of jazz's rhythmic drive and more esoteric lineages with Middle Eastern traditions, many of which, in fact, informed some of jazz's early departures to begin with.
Particularly effective are the title track, on which Dan Lutz's bass work stands out; the contemplative "Sunday's Proposal"; the kinetic "Dimi's Kurdi," which showcases the oud's capacities; and "Thalassa, which evolves in a slow, supple resplendence. Built around the oud's unique sound, Protoleia undulates with an inviting, sensual sound. From its first notes, it's an immediate invitation into a sumptuous musical world that proceeds to successfully draw together multiple musical strands, creating a satisfying, absorbing experience.
Track Listing: The Feeling of Now; Protoleia; Sunday’s Proposal; Blue Ballroom; Dimi’s Kurdi; Interplanetary Kisses; Masqualero; Thalassa Personnel: Dimitris Mahlis: oud, guitar; Anastasios “Toss” Panos: drums, percussion; Dan Lutz: acoustic and electric bass; Record Label: Self Produced
Eric Saeger/Random Stabbings reviews Protoleia (edited)
In the wake of all their national troubles, you can tend to forget Greece's ancient culture, how long they've been around, their cultural relevance as bridge between east and west. A simple setup here: Dimitris Mahlis on guitar/oud, Toss Panos on drums, Dan Lutz holding down the bass and looking on as hypnotizing, depthless rhythm and expression unfold. As cliched as it may sound, this is, yes, precisely what you'd expect to hear playing in the background in a museum in some endless part of the world, but that's a special sort of gentleness people can use anytime. As ambient world-music goes, this drips class and art from every pore. Grade: A
Walter Kolosky reviews "Protoleia"
Protoleia Walter Kolosky only writes reviews of music that he highly recommends :-) (Please Share. Credit must go to "Walter Kolosky- Author of the books Power, Passion and Beauty and Follow Your Heart- John McLaughlin song by song.")
Protoleia Mahlis-Panos Project Greeksea -M-01
Dimitris Mahlis : Oud, Nylon String Guitar Anastasios “Toss” Panos : Drums, Percussion Dan Lutz : Acoustic and Electric Bass
Protoleia is one of the most revelatory acoustic fusion albums I have heard in some time. Oud player Dimitris Mahlis and drummer/percussionist Anastasios Panos are both Greek. It stands to reason any project in which they lead would take advantage of their strong cultural musical foundation, but these two fellows, along with bassist Dan Lutz, have passports stamped by many international influences. The full spectrum of all of the Western and Eastern forms are in the blend and presented with such feeling and verve that one can’t help but get caught up in the sonic globe trekking.
Mahlis, who also plays guitar on the album, wrote most of the compositions, which are full of the exotic ethnic motifs those of us who like spice with our music really enjoy. For descriptive purposes, some reference points can be found. Those familiar with the bassist Jonas Hellborg collaborations with Tony Williams (The Word) and Ginger Baker (Unseen Rain) will have a leg up in understanding the approach. Some of Hellborg’s other forays (Aram of Two Rivers) into Middle Eastern music could serve as precursors as well. Furthermore, coming entirely out of right field for music of this genre; the band can sound at times like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones! This is especially so on the title cut. Purposeful or not, that occasional newgrass element can give this mostly serious music a lighthearted charm.
To top it all off, these guys are really good jazz musicians. Their creativity and sympathetic interplay are obvious from moment one. They really know how to groove a number. (Hear the deep rut dug on "Sunday's Proposal.")
I can’t think of a more pleasant, yet thought-provoking, musical experience than to have the Mahlis-Panos Project take your ears on a worldwide tour. It's like taking a vacation for the cost of a download or CD
Chris Spector/Midwest Record reviews Protoleia
MAHLIS-PANOS PROJECT/Protoleia: Two world beat jazzbo with a shared Greek heritage have a long history together and a long history apart playing with everyone that means something and more. This is a delightfully out of the ordinary world jazz set that takes you well into all the back alleys of the middle east and it’s general environs. Accessible ethnicity with echoes of sound places you just can’t quite put your finger on power this set from start to finish. Clearly not just for malcontents, this is a musical project that hits all the right notes and takes world beat to the next level of the game. A winner throughout.
Volume 35/Number 281 July 28, 2012 MIDWEST RECORD CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher Copyright 2012 Midwest Record
Mahlis-Panos Project at The Baked Potato!
COME JOIN US AT THE WORLD FAMOUS BAKED POTATO THIS THURSDAY, JULY 12TH FOR TWO SETS OF MUSIC!
THE BAKED POTATO IS THE LONGEST-RUNNING JAZZ VENUE IN LOS ANGELES AND ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PLACES FOR MUSICAL EXPLORATION.