Born in Larissa, Greece, Βασίλειος Πριμηκύρης aka Billy Prim is a young jazz drummer who also studied classical piano. Now based in Budapest, the musician can be heard performing and collaborating on the Hungarian and international jazz scene. For many perceptive musicians, the sea (“Thalassa” in Greek) is an endless source of inspiration. This central theme is developed as a classic jazz trio over four expansive new compositions and one song on the drummer’s début album. Featuring Billy Prim on drums, Attila Blaho on Piano, Andor Horváth on Double Bass and Júlia Csillag on vocals, Thalassa was released on 20th September 2019 last on Blahonoiz Records.
The jazz trio format has of course widely evolved over the years to adapt to a broadening range of contemporary styles and perspectives. Yet, Thalassa still manages to defy expectations. As a drummer, Billy Prim is neither a leader in the traditional sense, nor is he expressing his music through signature beat patterns or the dynamic drive one might expect from a jazz time keeper. On the contrary, Billy Prim’s playing slowly ebbs and flows, providing a serene mood more than a swing.
On most compositions, the drummer makes extensive use of brushes and felt mallets in a fluctuating rubato style to create a constant lull as each theme unfolds. On Thalassa, Attila Blaho’s piano follows suit by articulating repetitive motives in a cyclical and minimalist fashion.
Solidly anchored within a European contemporary jazz sound, the trio’s centre of gravity is definitely South-Eastern European, even leaning towards the East on the album’s closing track for instance. “Midnight Sea is a song inspired from Indian Classical Music” notes the drummer. “The mood is meditative, contemplative and devotional”.
On the 8mn ballad “Keep the Child Alive in You”, Áron Turcsányi takes over on the electric bass for a notable surge midway, while the Hungarian folk song “Én Felkelék” by Júlia Csillag maintains the same tranquil atmosphere.
The sea metaphor is often used to express turbulence. Billy Prim’s music is rather immersive, tidal and attuned to the gentle swell of the waves like in the introduction to “Enlightenment”.
In an article posted on his website, Billy Prim likens the recent quarantine period experienced by independent musicians to being lost at sea or drifting aimlessly.
There is no knowing or foreseeing where all this will take us, but just by coming together and seeing where we can go, we will reach quiet shores again. And if we don’t, it is because we aren’t there yet.
Billy Prim’s superb Thalassa provides the perfect respite at this moment in time.