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Reviews for VARIATIONS

"George Cotsirilos' meticulous and tasteful guitar work is marked by remarkably subtle shifts in accents, and minute changes in expression and dynamics. He displays an impeccable sense of timing especially in revealing the hidden rhythms of complex melodies.  His approach to harmony is whimsical, but patently beautiful at all times."                                                                                                                                

- Raul D'Gama Rose,

All About Jazz


"This is about as tight a jazz trio as you'll ever be lucky enough to hear.”


David Wiegand,

San Francisco Chronicle

-Raoul D’Gama Rose, March 26, 2014


The guitar world is a cluttered one. Yet there is always room for someone good, especially when that person is George Cotsirilos. This is a quiet guitarist, who does not make the noise that many other musicians—lesser mortals, actually—make when they play and release recordings. Sometimes it pays to make a quiet noise. It is possible to focus upon the music as it is on Mr. Cotsirilos’ trio recording, Variations. Moreover, the Bay-area musicians have a reputation of being more laid back; more cool, or cooler to be assiduous for that is where that epithet originated especially with Lee Konitz and Zoot Sims and a slew of others. But back to the guitar. It has always been a cool instrument. Its musicians paint from a blue and green palette. Charlie Christian was a conundrum. He played hot jazz, but with a cool tone; so did Wes Montgomery. So does Pat Metheny and the more forward-thinking instrumentalists. George Cotsirilos is one of those forward-thinking guitarists. He is painfully aware that he is replacing the piano in the role of both melodic and rhythmic instrument. Mr. Cotsirilos’ music is crepuscular; not only are his notes slightly dark, but they are also of a denser viscosity and as a result they dally awhile and roll off the strings more slowly than others.    

-George W. Harris, January 16, 2014


If you want to hear how a guitar is supposed to sound these days, you can’t go wrong with an album by George Cotsirilos. Here, he’s in a trio format with Robb Fisher/b and Ron Marabuto/dr, and together an intimate collection of material is provided. Some nice bop is felt on “A Walk For Ethel” and the team gets moody and deep on “Blues For The J Man.” His delicate fingerwork on “1937” is sublime and the groove is just right on “I Know You Know.” He fares even better on acoustic guitar with a lovely “Justin Case” and a spotlight on a drop dead gorgeous “But Beautiful.” Lots to love here.  

-Jordan Richardson, Nov 23, 2013


One of the most apparent revelations about Variations is how unprotected it leaves guitarist George Cotsirilos. The San Francisco-based musician plays both acoustic and electric guitars in a trio setting, with just drummer Ron Marabuto and bassist Robb Fisher as accompaniment.

That puts Cotsirilos front and centre, but he’s more than up for the task. His adeptness on the six-string is the sort of efficient mastery seldom seen. He’s not a flamboyant player, but he doesn’t shy away from well-paced, well-considered flourishes. It could perhaps be argued that accuracy is his game, even if he never dodges the opportunity to play some down and nasty blues.

-Brent Black, Oct 18, 2013


The jazz guitar trio is risky with the end result usually feast or famine with very little middle ground. The George Cotsirilos Trio seemingly owns this format with a warmth and intimacy seldom captured since the Blue Note days of Kenny Burrell. Swing, what is it? How do you know when you are in love? You feel swing, it comes from that sweet spot just past your soul. Bop oriented style guitarists of this ability are a rare breed. Bassist Robb Fischer and drummer Ron Marabuto add that nuanced lyrical cohesion that allows three voices to come together with simply magical results.  

-Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist, Nov. 4, 2013,


Guitarist George Cotsirilos has two big things going for him: a warm inviting tone and the ability to lead a trio of unbelievable tightness in such a way that it sounds loose and cheerful rather than constricted. Well, maybe one other big thing as well: phenomenal melodic inventiveness. On this album he switches between electric and acoustic guitar and between originals and standards (with emphasis on the former), gliding effortlessly between souful blues-oriented passages and kaleidoscopic bebop lines and doing an admirable job of filling the open space provided by the trio format with lots and lots of very tasty music. Recommended to all jazz collections.  

Reviews for PAST PRESENT

-John Heidt, Vintage Guitar Magazine, Dec. 2010

The intent behind George Cotsirilos' new record was simple - capture the chemistry of a seasoned jazz band and mix it with the right bunch of original tunes and a few standards.

-David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent. Chicago-born guitarist George Cotsirilos has been a mainstay of the Bay Area music scene for years, performing with Pharoah Sanders, Etta James and Eddie Marshall. The former co-leader of the San Francisco Nighthawks (which included Marshall and Bobby McFerrin pianist Paul Nagel), he puts his sublimely fluid jazz guitar skills on infectious display on "Past Present," the latest CD from the George Cotsirilos Trio, rounded out by bassist Robb Fisher (Cal Tjader, the San Francisco Nighthawks) and drummer Ron Marabuto. Whether on his own compositions ("Good Wood," "Franny's Jump" and "Cafe 4 Cats"), or on lilting arrangements of classics ("Without a Song," "What Kind of Fool Am I?" "The Way You Look Tonight"), this is about as tight a jazz trio as you'll ever be lucky enough to hear, with eloquent bass lines and delicately nuanced percussion.

-Raul D'Gama Rose, All About Jazz

George Cotsirilos' meticulous and tasteful guitar work is marked by remarkably subtle shifts in accents, and minute changes in expression and dynamics. On Past Present, he also displays an impeccable sense of timing especially in revealing the hidden rhythms of complex melodies. His approach to harmony is whimsical, but patently beautiful at all times. He is fleet-fingered across the fret board and equally expressive as he plucks the strings of his guitar, or simply rolls over them with fingertips, like brushstrokes on a canvas. He must have been a marksman in a past life, because he is so uncannily "bang-on" the pulse a song. And when songs rush and dally from verse to verse, Cotsirilos is damping and setting the strings free to catch each new pulse as it manifests itself.

-Veronica Timpanelli,


Past Present is the third release from guitarist George Cotsirilos, and the second for the trio. It is a strong follow-up to the trio's first release together, On the Rebop. This latest production offers up a good mix of original compositions and standards and remains fresh and swinging throughout.

-Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz


Guitarist George Cotsirilos has nearly thirty years experience as a musician, working with acts as diverse as Etta James and Pharoah Sanders. He was also, with bassist Robb Fisher, a founding member of the San Francisco Nighthawks. Past Present is the second album from the Cotsirilos Trio, following On The Rebop (OA2 Records, 2005), and it's a graceful and sophisticated mix of standards and Cotsirilos originals.

-George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon


I'm always a bit wary of guitar albums. Will a jazz guitarist really show up? Certainly one did in George Cotsirilos. He plays gimmick-free guitar, and his trio, with Robb Fisher on bass and Ron Marabuto on drums, cooks up several nicely conceived originals, moving with ease between swinging post bop to shimmering ballads. And always using space effectively, surely the sign of a veteran player. Three standards played wonderfully well included "The Way You Look Tonight," "Without a Song" and a beautiful acoustic solo on "What Kind of Fool Am I." It's straight down the middle of the jazz highway, a nice place to be.


One of the cool things about the deconstruction of the record business is that ace players that are stars in little provinces and parishes have just as much chance to get their stuff heard far and wide as any body. With distribution decentralized, the playing field is leveled. What a boon for Bay area guitarist Cotsirilos and us as this vet of over 20 years of Bay area plucking gets the chance to get the word out to the rest of us. A killer jazz guitar trio date, everyone gets the chance to show off the chops they've been honing locally to appreciative audiences for far too long. Full blooded, up market hipster, sitting down jazz that makes it all right to have egghead tendencies is what's on display here. Tasty listening stuff that just might make all the irritating small talk whirling on around you come to a stop. Check it out.

-C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz


Mainstream guitar trio jazz possesses a soundtrack quality that makes it perfect for sleek and sophisticated noir movies boasting sardonic shamuses and dangerous dames. George Cotsirilos typifies this type of jazz guitar playing. If jazz guitar had an aroma, Cotsirilos' brand would smell of Yardley Soap, single-malt scotch, and unfiltered cigarettes in close quarters: dark and slightly decadent, full-bodied, and warm.


George Cotsirilos is another Chicago-born musician who has found himself on the West Coast - in this case the Bay Area - where he is a busy jazz guitarist. Bassist Robb Fisher was a fellow member of the San Francisco Nighthawks. Both Cotsirlios and Fisher, as well as the third member of the trio - drummer Ron Marabuto have worked with people like Cal Tjader, Art Pepper, Roland Hanna and many more. On their third OA2 recording, the band visits the past - by revisiting standards, including "Without a Song," and "The Way You Look Tonight," while also celebrating the present by performing a number of the guitarist's originals. Cotsirilos' guitar sound is warm and clean and the arrangements are straight-ahead, but very hip. Can hear a bit of Grant Green and Jim Hall in his style, but he has an individual voice. Some nice fast runs that are much more difficult than he makes them sound. Fisher and Marabuto are obvious pros who compliment their leader well, and the songs and performances are endearing in a laid back, cool California way. Mostly bop, but the title track opens up to new and welcome Spanish-flavored directions and Cotsirilos also shows his classical side in a solo nylon-string guitar version of Anthony Newley's "What Kind of Fool Am I." Solid and savory outing from this San Francisco treat.


There's a lot of accessible, high quality jazz recording going down on the West Coast this year - music from trumpeter Ian Carey and vocalist Gail Pettis are just two shining examples and both released A+ recordings in 2010. For the sheer enjoyment I've had listening to him, I'll add Bay Area guitarist George Cotsirilos whose sophomore recording, "Past Present," stands out for several reasons - the trio is beautifully rendered in the studio, it has neither fluff nor fussiness, and all the tunes, including standards and six originals, are musically and emotionally expressive. Cotsirilos has played and performed for over twenty years and a member of the popular quartet, The San Francisco Nighthawks. Accompanied by bassist Robb Fisher (Cal Tjader) and drummer Ron Marabuto (Tommy Flanagan), Cotsirilos embarks on a set of upbeat, swinging tunes that spotlight both his nimble chops and compositional strengths. The easy-going gait on the title track exemplifies the remarkable proficiency of this great trio and overall, the set is elevated by Cotsirilos' unfettered lyricism.

-Grego Applegate Edwards,


Frisco Bay area mainstreamer George Cotsirilos has the ability to sustain an hour-long set of the improvisatory arts with elan and imagination. His second trio date Past Present (OA2 22062) gives you a full earful of the Cotsirilos style, which is old-school jazz mainstream without sounding derivative.

His line building imagination, chording sophistication and phrasing subtleties come at you full force on this fine disk. Three standards and seven originals put an excellent spin on his wide-ranging talent. The backing duo of Robb Fisher on bass (with a full bodied tone and nice note choices) and drummer Ron Marabuto gives him the best sort of support.

It's old-school guitar jazz dressed in its best finery. It's music that sustains a tradition by building upon it rather than reproducing it verbatim.

Very much recommended.


Bay Area guitarist George Cotsirilos has the kind of soft touch and effortlessly artful phrasing that other guitarists would kill for, and he also has a near-magical ability to improvise melodies that are simultaneously surprising and inevitable. This is unapologetically old-fashioned, straight-ahead jazz that nevertheless feels fresh and new, whether he's playing one of his fine originals or interpreting a standard like "The Way You Look Tonight." Bassist Robb Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto are no less impressive. Highly recommended to all jazz collections. (RA)

-Woodrow Wilkins, All About Jazz


This recording delivers vintage jazz guitar but nothing that sounds trite or old. The George Cotsirilos Trio delivers that with a mix of original tunes and standards on Past Present.

Born in Chicago, Cotsirilos has been a fixture in the San Francisco area since the early 1990s. Trained with the violin, he switched to guitar after becoming frustrated that the violin could not produce pop and jazz sounds he had come to love. After studying at the University of California at Berkeley, he toured with The Whispers and performed with a variety of jazz and blues artists. For Past Present, he is accompanied by bassist Robb Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto.


George Cotsirilos is a hidden treasure of jazz - one of those wonderful players that you know are out there somewhere working away without the wider recognition they deserve. This guitarist has paid his dues for almost thirty years now, and with this - his second CD - he shows that he has earned full membership to the club.

-Jordan Richardson,


Unassuming and without airs, George Cotsirilos' guitar snakes through Past Present with velvety simplicity. The new record from his trio, comprised also of bassist Robb Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto, is a fulfilling ten-song set that rises and falls like the smoke from a good cigar.

Reviews for ON THE REBOP

-John Heidt, Vintage Guitar Magazine


Veteran jazz guitarist Cotsirilos' latest record is a swinging set driven by his considerable chops and skill at composing and interpreting music. His band mates, Robb Fisher (bass) and Ron Marabuto (drums), are the perfect match with their ability to follow their leader's moves.

On "Good Wood", Cotsirilos mixes chords and single notes to state the jumping melody. Like many of the songs here, it's a swingfest. The style also dominate on "Franny's Jump" and "Rosie's Tune". The latter finds Fisher stating the melody with the guitarist until Cotsirilos breaks into a clean, swinging solo pushed along by the rhythm section. Cover tunes supply some of the quieter moments; the pathos of "What Kind of Fool am I?" is captured wonderfully by Cotsirilos' unaccompanied acoustic guitar. Same goes for "Without a Song", where the melody is stated with octaves and the improvisation is goosed perfectly by the rhythm section. The title cut is played on acoustic, giving a perfect mix of chords, single lines, and a memorable melody.

Past Present may not be groundbreaking, but Cotsirilos and his band proffer fine musicianship, memorable songs, and a soulful delivery that is missing from many traditional jazz guitarists of his generation.

-Kelly Vance, East Bay Express, May 2006, "Furious George"


There's something relentlessly cosmopolitan about the guitar stylings of George Cotsirilos. Maybe it's his pearlescent Kenny Burrell tone. Maybe it's his choice of loungey material - on his latest OA2/Origin release, On the Rebop, he skips smoothly through the Jerome Kern/Charlie Parker/Hoagy Carmichael songbook, sprinkled amongst his own compositions. But most of all, Bay Area musician Cotsirilos and his trio (bassist Robb Fisher, drummer Ron Marabuto) burn brightly and swing furiously under their sophisticated sheen. Hotel lobbies and sedate saloons like Berkeley's Albatross Pub could catch on fire from their muted smolderings. Cotsirilos (he has played with Chuck Israels, former bassist of the immortal Bill Evans) and trio stretch out in the Albatross Saturday night (9:30 p.m.) Be there.

-Ric Bang, Jazz Critic,Davis California Enterprise


George Cotsirilos is relatively unknown outside the San Francisco jazz community. He plays guitar beautifully, with great phrasing and a genuine jazz feel. Two of the tunes ("I'm Old Fashioned" and "The Nearness of You") are played as straight ballads; a third ("Gale") is done in a quiet Latin meter; the rest are up-tempo. Five, including the title track, were written by Cotsirilos.

Just to prove that these guys can play in any style, the Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie bop anthem, "Anthropology," is given a new wax job. The by-play between guitar and bass is masterful, while Marabuto gives a perfect demonstration of the "drums should be felt, rather than heard" rule.

This instrumentation -- guitar, bass and drums -- is relatively uncommon for a jazz trio. Joe Pass recorded with a similar group, and Cotsirilos' trio belongs in that company. This is a rich and moving jazz experience.

Reviews for SILENCIOSA

--Doug Collar "Jazz Till Midnight", WKAR-FM, Radio


Recently while digging into a Danish and having a coffee at a Panera, I caught a hard grooving Wes Montgomery tune over the sound system. That is the same vibe I get from George Cotsirilos. "On the Rebop," which is straight ahead and the real thing. When somebody asks me whatever happened to Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel, I'll be telling them to pick up on George's sounds. His recordings are always welcome on "Jazz Till Midnight".

-Dick Crockett "Still Another Jazz Show," KXJZ-FM Radio


The kind of stuff I'd hear on the Jim Rockwell show, from a top of the Sheraton Cadillac in downtown Detroit, circa 1961. Cotsirilos creates the nostalgia that Johnny Smith and Tal Farlow delivered on the jazz scene in the fifties and sixties. smooth, open and unencumbered... and delivers on record."


-C. Michael Baily, All About Jazz


Silenciosa is a superb solo guitar recital by Joe Pass-Charlie Byrd devotee and Bay-Area veteran George Cotsirilos. Despite the title, this is not a Latin-oriented jazz recording. Mr. Cotsirilos basically very ably performs the Great American Songbook and a classical nylon string guitar. His performance is intelligent and bright with virtuosic flashes as would be thrown off by the aforementioned Pass. The ballads, "My Romance," "Just Friends," My Foolish Heart," and "Here's that Rainy Day" are all beautifully rendered through the soft round tone of the nylon strings. There is a residual Latin quality to these works, more than likely a function of the instrument, that works very well. This is a recording that tells all listeners that we are all in it together.


Bay area music veteran George Cotsirilos, known for his work as a sideman and his recordings with the all star "San Francisco Nighthawks," steps out alone on this, his debut solo album. Taking a cue from, and continuing in the tradition of, guitar greats Charlie Byrd, Gene Bertoncini, Lenny Breau and several others, Cotsirilos performs on the nylon string classical guitar, adding new depth to jazz classics in this sophisticated and elegant exploration. This is a warm and intimate look at 14 great standards.

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