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Reviews for REFUGE

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“[S]uperb… All of the album's 10 tracks were composed by Cotsirilos and have a swaggering energy. To Cotsirilos's credit, he constantly shifts gears to keep things interesting and to engage and hold the listener. While all of his songs are ferociously smart and feature his singular sound, they are warm, thoughtful and inviting expressions. Refuge features George Cotsirilos in his prime in terms of his writing, technique and playing in a variety of hybrid styles. And his sidemen are perfectly in sync with his sensitivity and tender dynamism. As the music demonstrates, this is a dream quartet that listens to each other.”

- Marc Myers, JazzWax

“This deservedly well-respected guitarist/composer adds to his already impressive résumé with this, his seventh studio album. As with the trio effort, Variations (OA2 Records, 2013), it's a wonder to hear how he so effortlessly yet precisely he pulls bright lines from his fretboard to then interweave them with the other instrumentalists' sounds. But based on the expansion to a four-piece alignment on this project, George Cotsirilos has additional openings for such deft placement: the presence of Keith Saunders' piano alters the contours of both arrangements and musicianship and thus elevates the intrinsically challenging nature of the musicianship. That this OA2 album is all original material, composed specifically for this ensemble, only renders the listening experience that much more impressive, not to mention more likely to elicit repeated hearings to fully discern the record's multiple attributes.” 

- Doug Collette, All About Jazz

“From the strutting, spiky “Devolution” to the spidery, boppish “Let’s Make a Break for It,” the second quartet album led by guitarist George Cotsirilos continues his longstanding practice of writing and playing straight-ahead jazz that sounds like no one else. Here he leads the same combo that accompanied him last time (pianist Keith Saunders, bassist Robb Fischer, drummer Ron Marabuto), and if anything they’re even tighter and more supple than they were on 2018’s outstanding Mostly in Blue. Notice, for example, how lithely they negotiate the constantly changing rhythmic structure of “Aftermath,” and how tightly they swing on the uptempo numbers. Cotsirilos’ tone is warm and golden, and his melodic and harmonic ideas just seem to flow like water. Another triumph from one of our finest exponents of jazz guitar.”

-CD Hotlist

“It’s sessions like this that remind you why you like jazz guitar.”

- JazzWeekly

“[S]hows once again how straight ahead jazz is done and done right.” 

Midwest Record 

Refuge Reviews
Mostly in Blue Review

Reviews for MOSTLY IN BLUE

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Four Stars, Downbeat

"Performing originals with bluesy connotations and occasional Brazilian inflections alongside the standard “I Wish I Knew” and Charlie Parker’s “Crazeology,” the band achieves a like-live, late night ambiance. Cotsirilos favors a warm, pearly tone and long, flowing phrases, which dip into his lowest reaches. Saunders adds lightly percussive chordal accompaniment and takes graceful solos that expand the melodic material......he may feint toward funk, but like Cotsirilos, stays on the sophisticated side of that territory.......personal and a pleasure."

- Howard Mandel, Downbeat

"One of today’s finest jazz guitarists and composers, Cotsirilos has an unerring sense of swing and melody. His solos, while displaying accuracy and technique, are filled with soul. He’s the whole works on the 45 second intro to the standard “I Wish I Knew,” followed by the tune’s memorable melody and fine soloing." 

-John Heidt, Vintage Guitar Magazine

“This is a strong, straight-ahead set of mostly blues-tinged performances with Cotsirilos having contributed six of the eight numbers. Cotsirilos is a marvelous guitarist in the vein of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell and the like and his swinging, fluid, inventive, single note inventions are complemented by the backing rhythm section with pianist Keith Saunders also outstanding.....a group I would love to hear live if I have the chance.”

-Ron Weinstock. Jazz &

"With his perfectly round solo and chordal tone, Cotsirilos weaves a tight, swinging fabric that is fully integrated and readily digestible. Bop, beautifully performed. Sounds like it is straight out of Blue Note in the 60s, but all tracks are original, and there isn't a dull track amongst them."

​ - Tom McCarter---KZSU, 90.1, Stanford, CA  


"After three acclaimed trio albums since 2006 with bassist Robb Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto, they hooked up with pianist Keith Saunders to explore what Cotsirilos describes as “a little different sound connected to the tunes I was writing.” The results are astounding."

  - Miles Jordan----Chico News & Review

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


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.  

-Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist


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.  

  -Brent Black, 

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.

​ -Jordan Richardson, Canadianaudiophile

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.  

​ -George W. Harris, JazzWeekly 

Boston Post Gazette Review

October 25, 2013

Variation reviews

Reviews for PAST PRESENT

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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.

​ -David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

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…..Cotsirilos and his band proffer fine musicianship, memorable songs, and a soulful delivery that is missing from many traditional jazz guitarists of his generation.​

-John Heidt, Vintage Guitar Magazine

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…  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 of 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.

-Raul D'Gama Rose, All About Jazz

​Past Present is a graceful and sophisticated mix of standards and Cotsirilos originals.

​ -Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz

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.

-George Fendel, Jazz Society of Oregon

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 anybody. 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.

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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.

-C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

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.



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)



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.


Past Present Review

Reviews for SILENCIOSA


"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 on 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." 

- C. Michael Baily, All About Jazz



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.

Silenciosa Reviews

Reviews for ON THE REBOP

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There's something relentlessly cosmopolitan about the guitar stylings of George Cotsirilos. Maybe it's his pearlescent Kenny Burrell tone…. Cotsirilos and his trio (bassist Robb Fisher, drummer Ron Marabuto) burn brightly and swing furiously under their sophisticated sheen. Hotel lobbies and sedate saloons could catch on fire from their muted smolderings. Be there.

-Kelly Vance, East Bay Express

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.

-Ric Bang, Jazz Critic, Davis California Enterprise


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’s "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".​

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

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."

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

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