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recordings

>Guillermo Gregorio:
>Approximately

 


 

Approximately
Guillermo Gregorio
HatART CD 6184, 1996

Guillermo Gregorio, alto sax, clarinet
Mat Maneri, violin
Eric Pakula, tenor and alto sax
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
John Lockwood, bass


Recorded June 1995

TRACK LISTING
1. Approximately
(G. Gregorio) 5:00
2. Two Ambiguities 
(G. Gregorio) 4:49
3. Aural 
(G. Gregorio) 6:12
4. In Absentia  
(G. Gregorio) 1:23
5. Caution
(G. Gregorio) 5:46
6. The Other Notes 
 including 17" of Turmoil
by Pete Rugolo
(G. Gregorio) 1:09
7. Four Shapes On Yellow Paper
( Art Lange) 3:15
8. The Cloud
(G. Gregorio) 5:36
9. Equilibrium
(G. Gregorio) 1:53
10. Cambridge Excavation 
(G. Gregorio) 5:03
11. Some Reflections on "Marionette"
(William H. Bauer, arr. G. Gregorio) 5:48
12. The Other Side Of The Charles
(G. Gregorio) 3.02
13. Kromos #2   
(G. Gregorio) 4:14
14. Composition With Gray & Blue
(G. Gregorio) 1:33

 

Two Ambiguities
(G. Gregorio)

Real Audio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

Reviews
A quite lovely Free Jazz album, led by a pleasingly restrained alto saxophonist and composer, whose obvious love for pan-tonal melody produces some of the most quietly compelling and spacious music this side of Anton Webern.

Gregorio is a 54 year -old Argentinean immigrant to the U. S. An architect by trade, his carefully constructed tunes and improvisations lend themselves to a manifest parallel with his vocation. On both of his horns, Gregorio plays the part of a more consistently dodecaphonic Lee Konitz; he has every bit of the latter's gentleness of tone and asymmetry of rhythm. His Boston-based sidemen are a group unto themselves. In 1994 Pakula and Karayorgis (along with drummer Eric Rosenthal) led a record date that produced Between Speech & Song, a wonderful, more straight-ahead album of their own, on Cadence Jazz. Here they serve the Indiana-based saxophonist as something of a repertory ensemble, reading down his compositions and providing him with the necessary backing to realize his vision. All fulfill their roles notably well, particularly pianist Karayorgis whose sense of displaced tonality and rhythm complements perfectly the leader's overall vision.

The absence of a drummer throws the group's improvised free-counterpoint into vivid relief, almost as if Silence was the quintet's sixth member. Gregorio is an uncommonly effective (and affective) musician; Approximately embodies exactly the type of original musical thought that one wishes were more common.
Chris Kelsey, Cadence, October 1996

Given the shifting ensembles Guillermo Gregorio has assembled on this session, it's easy to guess why the record is titled this way. All of these various groupings of musicians move around ever so slightly, changing the timbres and voicings of these chosen compositions just enough to matter. And yes, Gregorio is being given the benefit of the doubt here, as it becomes nearly impossible by the back sleeve to tell who goes where. And if listeners are paying so much attention to the sleeve, how do they pay attention to the music? Forget the sleeve — throw it and its pretentious liner notes away (or at least hide them) — while listening to this fine work. Gregorio is still sorting out his composing and arranging strengths, tilling the soil of further development, and it's fascinating to see it all coming together. With violinist Mat Maneri a near constant here (he's on all but one track, Art Lange's composition, which is the spine of the album), he has an ally in his articulation of a music that is not so much a melding of new classical music and jazz, but a new jazz that is classical music. And he uses the tradition in a manner that is akin to Franz Koglmann — whom he played with for a number of years — but also moves away from the "white line" that Koglmann focuses on so distinctly. In the first six pieces — "Approximately," "Two Ambiguities," "Aural," "In Absentia", "Caution," and "The Other Notes" — Gregorio, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, and Maneri, along with saxophonist Eric Pakula and bassist John Lockwood on most of these pieces, forge a new jazz minimalism, where improvisation and compositional elements are one, but they are also just that: elements. All tonalities are decentered, all rhythmic notions are collapsible, and notions of timbre, interval, harmony, texture, meter, and real time are all given to subtle, quiet flux, interchangeably touched by other elements in a given piece. As previously mentioned, Lange's "Four Shapes on Paper" is the turnaround on the album. It's the only overly "new music" work here and should have been left off. The tempos start to change and engage on all four cylinders on "Kromos #2," with a killer clarinet solo by Gregorio and Maneri's violin sawing away the harmonic scope underneath him. Gregorio is still a bit of an academician, but at least he has a sense of humor, and is very musical. Approximately is a fine album — if only it weren't for that aggravating back sleeve.
Thom Jurek, AMG EXPERT REVIEW

“Argentinean reedman / composer Guillermo Gregorio shares music of grace and quiet urgency in Approximately. Drums would be vulgar, somehow. Writing for various combinations of reed (himself on alto and clarinet, Eric Pakula or tenor and alto), violin (Mat Maneri), piano (Pandelis Karayorgis) and bass (John Lockwood), Guillermo crafts a chamber music of insistent but subtle vitality.

Subtlety doesn't mean stasis. Gregorio has a great ear for melodic contours, heard most deliciously when he matches saxophones with Pakula (the title track, Aural, and their trio improvisation with Maneri The Other Side of the Charles, are exceptional) and fluidity prevails. He tends to work at very low volume, which makes the occasional affirmation (Kromos #2) that much more powerful.”
Coda
Gregorio recorded Approximately, his first disc as leader, at the age of 54. Born in Buenos Aires. he worked as an architect, wrote about design and modern music and performed in both contemporary classical and jazz groups. In 1986 he left Argentina, living first in Germany then settling in the United States. Though he had long led his own groups, his only commercial recordings prior to Approximately were as a member of Franz Koglmann's Pipetet. Gregorio shares Koglmann's fondness for the 'white line' of Cool Jazz and Third Stream improvisers. There are similarities in his music to the gentle abstractions of Jimmy Giuffre's 1961 trio and Gregorio is also much influenced by Tristano school saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, the latter of whom he studied with in the mid eighties. On Approximately, Gregorio is joined by four Boston-based musicians who fit perfectly into his austerely beautiful sound-world. This is a music of intimate exchange: wraiths of melody hang in the space, instruments step softly in unison or intricate counterpoint, eerie rumbles and scurries come and go. Barely audible at times, introspective, subtly nuanced, Approximately is a disc that requires - and repays - the closest attention. On headphones, a masterpiece.
GL, Gramophone Jazz Good CD Guide, 2nd Edition

This would not be the first time I have reviewed a jazz disc, so called, in art music's alpha section. As before, the label is hatART. Curious to note, and for my part coincidentally, the Buenos Aires-born, Indiana-based instrumentalist-composer, Guillermo Gregorio, performs on two of my favorite Franz Koglmann hatART CDs, Orte Der Geometrie (6018), and Cantos I-IV (6123), the second of which I reviewed in these pages very much for the reasons I apply here: with music like this, distinctions degrade to nonsense. Surely we are as close to classical's cutting-edge rigors are as we are to jazz's rather more familiar comforts. (The irony of "cutting-edge" intrudes like a keening banshee. Much present-day art music is anything but. "Sugared butt-end" rather. Best to let it go as inapplicable to our present needs.)

Art Lange, normally a hatART annotator, co-produced Approximately with Guillermo Gregorio and contributed a composition, Four Shapes on Yellow Paper, to the mix. As the tray card puts it, Two Ambiguities, In Absentia, Equilibrium, and The Ocher Side of The Charles are "the result of a collective creation by the musicians.'' Violinist Mat Maneri did the good recording, assisted by Miranda lngani, Aaron Spivak, and Eric Rosenthal. With results sometimes disastrous it is no rare event that a participating instrumentalist acts also as recording engineer. Happily, these present examples register as excellent shading toward warmish: indeed, I was gulled into hearing the whole of Approximately as mellower in character than it really is. Maneri appears as violinist and co-engineer on another hatART Jazz Series CD. 6188, Joe Maneri Quartet/Dahabenzapple. That disc's annotator, our own Art Lange, is in typical verbal fettle: bright, airborne feathers of subtle observation waft well above the hurly-burly's grunge, and so we never do learn whether Mat is Joe's brother, son, nephew, or what. It is Dahabenzapple's French-language annotator, Jean Buzelin, who, knee-deep in the muck of facts, Iets us in on the secret. Mat is Joe's son. Which brings us to another coincidence: reasonably enough, the Massachusetts-based Joe Maneri Quartet recorded Dahabenzapple in Boston. Guillermo Gregorio's ensemble recorded Approximately in Cambridge, MA. Annotator John Corbett explains: .... Gregorio looked to the East—specifically. Boston (home to a substantial 'cooler' legacy...."

The remaining pieces, Approximately, Aural, Caution, The Other Notes (including 17" of Turmoil by Pete Rugolo), The Cloud, Cambridge Excavation, Some Reflections on "Marionette" (Wm. H. Bauer, arr. Gregorio), Kromos #2, and Composition with Gray & Blue are Gregorio's. Corbett provides an interesting bio: Gregorio has studied architecture and written and lectured on Buckminster Fuller and contemporary design, and, on the music side, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Morton Feldman, LaMonte Young, and Harry Partch, among others. I mention a stimulating motley as a kind of presentation for the treats that await. For hearing this disc is what I urge you to do, whatever your musical preferences.

In certain felicitous instances, when challenged beyond his capabilities, a reviewer can cheat by making comparisons: both Gregorio and
Joe Maneri are obviously at home in advanced idioms. Maneri (on reeds and piano) takes the more astringent route. Dahabenzapple's dissonances and angularities are both of a rare and bracing quality and not for everyone, and I recommend it with enthusiasm, thus qualified. In Approximately, whether Gregorio's numbers, or ensemble collaborations, or Art Lange's deliciously Webernesque-Ligetian Four Shapes on Yellow Paper, the method and mood, vis-à-vis Maneri's quartet, are a whole lot more playful. But certainly no less daring! The title work exhibits moments of harmonic turbulence the equal in destiny to anything of its kind. The wit, for me, consists of the bridgework from craggy solidity to lighter-than-airiness, with the emphasis always on the latter quality. Gregorio's own The Cloud plays, with embellishments, as an elegant reflection of Franz Koglmann's moodily textured universe. As perhaps the leading delight, Gregorio, Pakula, Maneri, Karayorgis, and Lockwood interact as an ensemble as if they'd been at it for years. If pressed into service thus, the disc entire plays, or can, as the thinking person's background. It's the kind of music you can work around or attend to with all you've got, either way profitably.
Mike Silverton, (unidentified publication)

 

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