The Nick Demopoulos Quartet is a chamber jazz group that was based in Los Angeles throughout the 1990's. The group played a style of chamber jazz influenced by 20th Century classical music, chamber music, and other jazz artists that were making use of polytonality, such as Richie Beirach and Dave Liebman. The group featured some fine musicians who were based in Los Angeles during the 1990's including Nick Demopoulos on guitar, Katisse Buckingham on flute, tenor, soprano and alto sax, Mike Elizondo on acoustic bass and Joel Alpers on drums.
Their CD, "Harmonic Convergence" received rave reviews and got a 5 star rating from Jazzreview.com, where reviewer Lee Prosser wrote "This is visual music. Music that begs the eye to close and the mind to be still. It is a musical journey that is exciting, well-paced and, pardon the cliché, simply brilliant."
The group disbanded when guitarist and bandleader Nick Demopoulos moved to New York City. In NY he started another group, Exegesis, that has released two other CDs, "The Order of Chaos," and "The Harmony of the Anomaly." In New York he also began playing with legendary jazz percussionist and NEA Jazz Master Chico Hamilton. Demopoulos has also traveled on behalf of the U.S. Department of State as a cultural ambassador to the Middle East, visiting Bahrain, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, performing jazz concerts and speaking about arts and culture in the United States.
The other musicians on "Harmonic Convergence," all went on to have successful careers based in the Los Angeles area. Katisse Buckingham has a long list of recording and performance credits that include Yellowjackets, Prince, Dr. Dre, Airto & Flora Purim, Vanessa Paradis, Herbie Hancock, Dave Douglas, Andy Summers, Pete Yorn, Brian Auger, John Patitucci, Terri Lyne Carrington, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Strunz and Farah, Bill Summers, Jimmy Haslip, Russ Ferrente, Bob Hurst, Tom Brechtline, Munyungo Jackson, Gary Novak, Gary Thomas, Alphonso Johnson, B-Sharp Jazz Quartet, Don Grusin, Dean Parks, Greg Phillinganes, Harvey Mason, Abe Laboriel (Sr. and Jr.), Sandro Albert, Otmaro Ruiz, Gerry Gibbs, Jimmy Johnson, Will Kennedy, Robben Ford, Patrice Rushen, DJ Quik, and Xzibit. He has also played on numerous films (including the "jazz flute" scene in the Will Ferrell film, Anchorman).
Bassist Mike Elizondo is especially known for his collaborations with internationally successful producer Dr. Dre and rapper Eminem. He has played the bass for many of Dr. Dre's productions and has co-written some of Eminem's songs, including the hit single "The Real Slim Shady". He co-produced several songs on Encore with Dr. Dre, and co-produced 50 Cent's hit single "In Da Club", again, with Dr. Dre. Elizondo has also co-written songs for many other, notable artists, including Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, D-12, Xzibit, Nate Dogg and Obie Trice. Aside from hip hop, Elizondo has worked with singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, producing her 2005 album Extraordinary Machine. He was also involved in album tracks for artists such as Nelly Furtado, Lisa Marie Presley, and Pink. He writes songs and plays the bass, guitar, and keyboards himself. With three other high-profile musicians, Elizondo is part of the experimental rock group Shogun Warrior, who play at the famed Baked Potato bar & club in Hollywood, CA frequently.
Here is the full review from Jazzreview.com:
* Rating: Five Stars
This wonderfully witty, swinging, post-bop-inspired quartet of guitarist Demopoulos, saxophonist/flautist Katisse Buckingham, bassist Mike Elizondo, and drummer Joel Alpers is exceptional. The guitarist is working with a new quartet now, though why he would walk away from these wonderful players is a mystery. Buckingham's sax lines often remind of George Adams, though Albert Ayler and David Lieberman influences abound, as well. As a flautist, there is a bit of a Sam Most influence at play. Having said all of that, he is a player who stands as his own man shoulder to shoulder with any reed players on the scene today. Elizondo has Pastorious elements in his arsenal and Alpers plays melodically like few players this side of Elvin Jones or Tony Williams. Demopoulos is a wizard, both as a composer (all tunes are his) and a blur of a guitarist. Like an early Larry Coryell and Tal Farlow blended together, he's as fleet-fingered as he is facile and quick- witted. He doesn't play fast for the sake of speed. It's as if there were a wealth of ideas bursting to get out before time expires.
"Necrosis" has an element of South American tropical breeze, with Buckingham's snaky lines painting a musical soundscape that mesmerizes. On "Anamorphosis" the group rides the rhythm like a Saturday at the races, working in tandem though vying for victory. Alpers and Elizondo underpin Demopoulos' brilliant discourse throughout and hang on for the dazzling Buckingham break. "Navarac" is the most clever number here, sounding mysteriously like a tune from Mr. Ellington's songbook with a reverse spelling. "Nothingness," with Buckingham on flute, is a beautiful, haunting melody over delicate drumming and imaginative bass work. "Journey To Cydonia" traverses tempos and time changes marvelously and seems to take a musical world tour in the process. Like Al Dimeola, Demopoulos has a facility for distilling a fat musical stylistic toolbox into jaw-droppingly tantalizing lines. The word 'brilliant' is insufficient. Like his bandmates, his is a name that begs wider recognition.
This is visual music. Music that begs the eye to close and the mind to be still. It is a musical journey that is exciting, well-paced and, pardon the cliché, simply brilliant. This tops my list for the best new music I've heard this year. Never mind that it was recorded (and apparently released) in 1997. Well worth searching out.