Melissa Stylianou
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Melissa Stylianou


Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter


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"Melissa Stylianou at Ottawa Jazz Festival"

The early show featured Toronto-based vocalist Melissa Stylianou, who worked through a generous set that started with the standard My Foolish Heart, finished with a bewitching cover of the Beatles'
Blackbird, and showcased her considerable skills as a lyricist and
composer on an eclectic mix of originals in between.

On East of the Sun, Stylianou sang the first chorus with nothing but
drummer John Obercian's light touch behind her. By the time bassist Andrew Downing joined in, the tight, barely contained swing was sparkling dangerously, and it burst into full flame with guitarist
Rob Piltch's solo.

Stylianou's sultry, after-midnight voice floated hauntingly above the
understated backing of the trio - but they would have sounded all the better accompanied by starlight and a bottle of wine, rather than blinding sun and a bottle of sunscreen.
- Ottawa Citizen, June 25, 2006

"Melissa Stylianou "sliding down" review on"

Melissa Stylianou - Sliding Down – Sleepin’ Bee Music - 2006 Release
Reviewed by: Paul J. Youngman – KJA Jazz Advocate

Sliding Down is a welcome addition to the Stylianou discography, the CD named after the song written by Edgar Myer with lyrics by Stylianou was written while attending a workshop at Banff Centre in Alberta. The song has a beautiful piano intro performed by Jamie Reynolds, very touching. Stylianou performs this song accompanied by a cello played by Kevin Fox, a perfect accompaniment to her lush and smooth vocal renderings. The song builds to a nice climax, teasing, sensual and full of the joy that an adventurous romance in the beautiful Banff Centre surroundings could conjure.

Fox is featured on another pretty song “Lohengrin” composed by Stylianou and arranged by Ratcliffe and Reynolds. The liner notes indicate that the song was written at the Banff Centre in 2004, with thanks going out to her friends for help in developing the piece.

The first track on the CD is a swingin tune, “Them There Eyes” written by Pinkard, Tracy, Tauber and arranged by Roth and Ratcliffe. The song swings with Stylianou’ feel but is driven by percussionist Alan Hetherington who lays down a Brazilian beat with shakers and low pitched drums, a good time, romping groove.

Stylianou has a smooth beautiful voice, her phrasing is fluid, graceful and inviting. She extends the end of her phrases to create a nice flowing feel. On her new jazz standard, “Blackbird” a Lennon & McCartney hit song, she delivers a wonderful rendition that is quite simply, excellent. Bass player, Artie Roth is playing the rhythm very fast in a higher register and creating a nice upbeat feel. The drummer Hetherington is performing on brushes in fine form, to compliment the vocal phrasing.

On “That Ole Devil Called Love”, “East of the Sun” and “All of You” Rob Pilch’s guitar playing on all of these tracks is superlative. He has some great runs, amazing tone and full bright chords that he strings together with next to perfect phrasing. Piltch is one third of a superb trio, along with Davide Direnzo on Drums and Jon Maharaj on acoustic bass. Stylianou is completely at home and at her most relaxed performing these ballads.

The song “Three Little Girls” written by Ratcliffe with lyrics by Stylianou has a Middle Eastern flavour. Kevin Breit on National steel guitar using a slide to create an affect similar to an Eastern stringed instrument sets an eerie mood to the piece. The song has a marching 6/8 feel. I like this songs worldly flavour and the lyrics are enchanting. The beauty hits you right between the eyes, as Stylianou so elegantly puts it in the final verse of the song.

I was fortunate to see Melissa Stylianou live recently, she stopped in at the Pilot Tavern in Toronto as part of a Canadian tour. Stylianou makes New York her home base currently and this was a rare treat to see a future headliner. She was performing with local musicians, Andrew Downing(bass) and John Obercian (drums) as well as Rob Piltch on guitar. She performed most of the songs from the CD, her live performance of the material was uplifting and joyous.

For further information, check out the website:

"Make it New - Melissa Stylianou with the Art of Time Ensemble"

Art of Time Ensemble
That Crazy American Music
November 4 & 5, 2005 • Harbourfront Centre Theatre • Toronto

Make it New
Report by Stanley Fefferman
Andrew Burashenko has fulfilled the Modernist dictum of Ezra Pound to “Make it New”. He took more than a dozen tunes everybody loves by composers everybody knows, invited wake-up-and-listen arrangements from half a dozen of Canada’s best (but sadly not so well known) arrangers, and performed them last night with an elite cross-over chamber/jazz quintet and girl singer.

With himself on piano, Gryphon Trio’s Roman Borys on cello, and the COC’s Ben Bowman on violin, tunes like Harold Arlen’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow” exhibited the stately balance, the rich harmonies, the baroque elegance of chamber music, and the eccentricities of new music. The jazz folk—Melissa Stylianou on vocals, Rob Piltch on guitars, Phil Dwyer on winds and reeds—fit in with the chamber groove and also let the pieces swing. A whole new kind of pleasure.

The Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen classic “Come Rain or Come Shine”, is arranged by Cameron Wallace with the opening bars plucked pizzicato by the strings and piano and develops a novel percussive personality until Melissa settles it into the familiar pleasures of the lyric song. You can feel that this blend of old and new is a success when the piece ends: the whole room comes to rest in a prolonged silence, the musicians grin at each other, and the applause bursts out.

Phil Dwyer’s arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “The Song Is You,” sounds a bit like a Poulenc sextet until you begin to hear the voice of Paul Desmond's sax coming through Phil’s horn. Phil’s arrangement of “Somewhere”, by Leonard Bernstein, contains a terminally beautiful guitar solo by Rob Piltch. Rob’s equally memorable solo on his own arrangement of Hank William’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” attains a great depth of feeling in a duo passage where Roman Borys is plucking a bass line on his cello.

Melissa Stylianou’s pure-voiced, tasteful, renditions integrated into the ensemble as if she were the voice of another instrument. I thought of Ann Sophie Von Otter’s work with Elvis Costello. The mood of the evening as a whole was soulful and still, a blending of passion and peacefulness. The instrumental “Hiccup Tango” featuring Ben Bowman giving his violin the hiccups gave us some welcome smiles and fun. More of that next time.

Melissa Stylianou
“That Crazy American Music” is the first of four concerts this season in Toronto before The Art of Time Ensemble takes “That Crazy American Music” to Moscow and Korea in the Spring. The Toronto series includes a tribute to Dmitri Shostakovitch on his Centenary, a multi media celebration of the work of Canadian poet Dorothy Livesay, and a music and dance evening focused on the work of Peggy Baker and James Kudelka. Whatever they do, it is a good bet that The Art of Time Ensemble will find a way to “Make it New”.

"Eye Weekly Review for "bachelorette*""

Bachelorette Independent
Local jazz singer Melissa Stylianou, a regular at the Rex on Fridays, stretches beyond traditional jazz clichés on her stylish second album, which features songs by Tom Waits, Björk and Toronto's Cate Friesen as well as one original (the dreamy "The Lonely Want to Be"). Stylianou steers Björk's haunting title track into Jobim territory with the help of guitarist/co-producer Kim Ratcliffe, and her light touch and confident avoidance of affected, attention-begging vocal stylings provide ample space for her talented band (Ratcliffe, pianist Nancy Walker, bassist Artie Roth, drummer Ted Warren and trumpet/flugelhorn player John MacLeod) to shine. MDI
- Eye Weekly Magazine, Toronto

"Eye Weekly, Best of the Festival June 2006"

Jazz Festival “Best of” Pick 2006, Eye Weekly Magazine, Toronto

Mon, June 26. Pilot Tavern, 22 Cumberland. $10.
When Melissa Stylianou moved to New York, broken-hearted jazz fans sent up a familiar, cranky refrain. Who would we refer to as a standard-bearer when getting in arguments about the depth and breadth of Toronto's jazz talent? What would we do with our Friday nights if Stylianou's trio wasn't playing at The Rex? The hypnotic, dream-like grooves of Sliding Down (her third self-released album) may be a major step forward, but there aren't many singers who know when to pull out the stops and, more importantly, when to hold a note and let it melt in the air. The separation was amicable, and, hey, at least we got visitation rights. DM
- eye weekly magazine, Toronto

"Melissa Stylianou at 2004 Toronto Jazz Festival"

Melissa Stylianou took the stage on a Wednesday (June 25) afternoon as part of the CTV Lunchtime Series with a voice to match the weather: sultry and hypnotic like the heavy humidity clouding the air. She and her quintet played to a large lunchtime crowd, attentive and appreciative of the calibre of music they were hearing for free.
She played two enthusiastic sets consisting of both jazz favourites and original material. Several songs played during the performance will be featured on an upcoming album, the release date of which is yet to be determined she later explained to the audience.
Listening to Stylianou’s silken voice would do wonders to melt any stress or tension directly from one’s body, taking the mind on a meditative journey to a very warm, and very happy place. Her voice comes out slow and deliberate like a bead of sweat making its way down the back of your neck, or a steady stream of wax melting down the side of a burning candle. The audience was lulled into a dreamy lunchtime stupor by her beautiful performance.
Stylianou has a charming, animated stage presence that draws the audience in, and creates a relaxing vibe on stage for her fellow musicians.

"Mention in All About Jazz May 2006"

The warm, lingering tones of Jonathan Kreisberg’s hollow body guitar filled the dimly lit semi- subterranean space at La Lanterna di Vittorio’s Bar Next Door one Wednesday last month, mingling with the cosmic strains of Gary Versace’s organ and the crashing vibrations of Mark Ferber’s cymbals.
Skip to Sunday when Peter Mazza’s trio created an equally transporting experience as the guitarist soloed over a sample of himself on the standard “My Funny Valentine”, forming a lush, intricate string orchestration, while Will Vinson added a compelling dynamic on saxophone. A group of cheerful Greek tourists continually clinked their wine glasses while a family of four and a relaxed couple sipped their martinis by candlelight.
Two tunes into the set bassist Hans Glawischnig finished his beer and joined the duo, quickly followed by vocalist Melissa Stylianou who hopped off her barstool and found a place among the band for an impromtu performance of “All The Things You Are”. If it all sounds rather bohemian it’s because the essence of Greenwich Village flows nightly down the steps at 129 MacDougal Street and through the door of the townhouse built by Aaron Burr.
- All About Jazz

"Something Fresh and Fun for jazz lovers"

Something fresh and fun for jazz lovers

The Leader-Post
Published: Saturday, June 17, 2006
Sliding Down
Melissa Stylianou
Sleepin' Bee Music
Three 1/2 (out of five)
Toronto chanteuse Melissa Stylianou's third album is undoubtedly a jazz recording, yet it's infused with enough original material so as to offer something fresh and fun in a genre that can get tedious and, let's admit it, pretentious. Not so with Stylianou. She picks easily recognizable, or at least easily likeable, standards, such as Cole Porter's "All of You," and "Them There Eyes," which was recorded by Billie Holiday. She also offers a sexy version of "That Ole Devil Called Love," also recorded by Holiday, which shows the album's versatility as both dinner and bedroom music.
Stylianou crosses jazz's borders to cover The Beatles' "Blackbird." She rearranges it with reckless abandon and renders it largely unrecognizable except for the lyrics; the end result is a lively recording that soars as Stylianou's scat reaches higher and higher. She departs from the low, throaty vocals of many famed jazz singers, and effortlessly travels the scale up and down in each song.
Stylianou's original compositions are easy to pick out from the standards, but all of the songs still flow into each other thanks to her consistent vocal performance through each track. She also takes chances with her own songs, adding mandolin, slide and steel guitars. If she loses you with one of the classics, unlikely, "Mary's in the Tub," "Lohengrin" and "Three Little Girls" will get you back on track, especially the latter with its East Indian flavour.
-- Erin Harde
- Regina Leader-Post

"Melissa Stylianou: sliding down"

Jun. 1, 2006. 01:00 AM

Melissa Stylianou
Sliding Down (Sleepin' Bee)
Vocalist Stylianou makes a great career leap forward with this wonderful disc that's as much a tribute to her lyrics as it is to her light, airy and so assured singing. Her third album has 11 songs, for which she provides words and sometimes the music on five of them. Her clear, smooth delivery, open approach and ability to create intimacy (there's a hint of Blossom Dearie here) makes this session, backed by a top-drawer host of Toronto sidemen that includes guitarists Kim Ratcliffe and Kevin Breit, a standout.

Now relocated from Hogtown to New York, she's achieved a new level of performance that's well-exploited on the love-themed repertoire that includes the intricate rhythms of her "Mary's in the Tub," a far-out take on the Beatles' "Blackbird," neat vocalese on "Three Little Girls," the poetic "Lohengrin," the almost medieval title tune that slides into fashionable anxiety, and "L'Amitie," sung in French.

This album is clearly a best-of-year candidate.
- Toronto Star

"sliding down review in Le Voir"

Le Voir

29 juin 2006
Melissa Stylianou - (Sleepin' Bee Music / Festival)

Sliding Down
Gilles Tremblay

4 ½ etoiles

Bien que son nom ne soit pas très connu chez nous, la Torontoise Melissa Stylianou fait sa place sur la scène du jazz canadien. Élève de Carol Welsman, la chanteuse possède une voix enjôleuse et un excellent phrasé. Son troisième album lui permet de démontrer tous ses talents d'auteure-compositrice, particulièrement sur Lohengrin et Sliding Down. Ses lectures de Them There Eyes, soutenue efficacement par le percussionniste Alan Hetherington, et d'All of You, avec le guitariste Rob Pitch et le bassiste Jon Maharaj, insufflent une bouffée de fraîcheur à ces standards. Notons également les reprises de Blackbird des Beatles et, surprise, de L'Amitié popularisée par Françoise Hardy.

- Le Voir


"sliding down" (Sleepin' Bee Music 2006)

"Chemistry" 2005 - Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers - Guest artist

"bachelorette*" (SBM 2001)

"it never entered my mind..."(SBM 1999)

"slim's joint" (SJCD 1998) EP



Between 1997 and her move to New York in 2005, Melissa established herself as a formidable talent in Canada, earning three nominations as Jazz Vocalist of the Year at the National Jazz Awards (2003, 2004 and 2006) and a nomination as Composer of the Year in 2006. She has headlined at major jazz festivals all over Canada, including the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal and the Atlantic Jazz Festival in Halifax. Melissa’s 2006 release "Sliding Down" won praise on both sides of the border from The Toronto Star, JazzTimes, Downbeat and All About Jazz, as well as international airplay.

Since moving to New York, Melissa Stylianou has won a loyal following and impressed critics and peers with her performances in some of the city's best venues including: Jazz Standard, Birdland, Iridium, The Kitano, Le Poisson Rouge, Joe's Pub and Carnegie Hall. Over the past 5 years she has performed with a long list of top New York players including: Ben Monder, Chris Lightcap, Matt Wilson, Joel Frahm, Cameron Brown, John Hart, Steve Cardenas, Keith Ganz, Orlando le Fleming and Gene Bertoncini. Melissa plays every month at 55 Bar with her current trio: Pete McCann on guitar, Gary Wang on bass and Rodney Green on drums and it is this group that she will be bringing to the studio for her new album (due to be released Spring 2011).