date was the first meeting between violinist Mat Maneri and Greek pianist
Pandelis Karayogis. As a work of restrained beauty and subtle textures and
colors, it is nearly a masterpiece. Both players have a respect for what is
held back, what is left silent in a piece of music. Perhaps this is the reason
they chose to both open and close their program with Thelonious Monk's "Ugly
Beauty" (numbers one and two). The intensity of listening here comes
across immediately, as neither player seems interested in unnecessary dynamic
or dramatic episodes. Instead, melody and counterpoint are the only places
for engagement in this nearly mystical meeting between two minds so alike
in their search for perfect microtonal improvisation it becomes a single point
of focus. Given the spiritual presence of Monk, the album's original improvisations
take on spectral, even ghostly pallor as well. Maneri is playing an electrified
violin and carrying his sense of monody and the modal approach to melody Karayorgis
whose shape-shifting sense of timbral elegance is both original and full of
nuances gleaned from players like Bill Evans, Andrew Hill, and Randy Weston.
The most beautiful thing here is Maneri's "Blue Seven," a spontaneous
composition. Its haunting, lone violin line carries a lilting melody over
eight measures in 4/8 time before Karayorgis enters, playing an elegiac series
of chords and small tonal clusters that highlight Maneri's fragile, yet continuous
melodic invention. Karayorgis isn't playing counterpoint so much as he is
creating a counter-melody, based entirely on the intuition of where Maneri
will take what he has left of his original statement. The piece, as it moves
back and forth over 12 minutes, alternately sings and sobs over a small series
of pitches and scales; it is heartbreakingly beautiful. This was an auspicious
meeting of two young minds who had already in 1994 established their own voices
on a burgeoning jazz improv scene.
pianists have shied away from Thelonious Monk's challenging compositions,
shunning the influence of his angularity. And Cecil Taylor's boldly creative
free jazz is something they avoid like the plague. But pianist Pandelis Karayorgis
is a brave soul who has been greatly influenced by both of these daring piano
innovators and fashioned a radical sound of his own. The Boston-based Greek
immigrant isn't an innovator himself, although he's definitely original. Electric
violinist Mat Maneri engineered Pandelis and altoist Eric Pakula's Between
Speech & Song, an album that was highly cerebral but not as "outside"
as the avant-garde and very free In Time. With Maneri and Karayorgis forming
a duo and sharing the spotlight on In Time, it's especially evident just how
strong their rapport is. Karayorgis wears Taylor's influence like a badge
of honor without being nearly as abrasive. In Time is tough listening, but
undoubtedly worth the ride.
is atonal and highly charged. Modern jazz has been fascinated by the sparse
world of Anton Webern since Chicago jazz musicians started addressing issues
of space and silence in the 60s. Currently, much free playing in London sounds
like improvised Webern; Maneri and Karayorgis have found a cool, convincing
way of doing it. Thoughtful and impressive.
a duo in Massachussets, made up of pianist P. Karayorgis and violinist M.
Maneri we have been hearing concentrated and-since they put me in a reflective
mood-rather thoughtfully composed nocturnes. In their jazzy moments they cover
the creative mind of Thelonious Monk, however their center of gravity lies
-in a welcome sense-in cooler, more introverted chamber music which tickles
my ears with its intelligence and melancholy.
A change of course with the Maneri-Karayorgis
duet, two accomplished musicians whose compositions give the same importance
to piano and electric violin (which is amplified in such a way that it sounds
close to acoustic). In Time is situated in between “classical”
music and jazz, in between convention and going beyond. For Maneri and Karayorgis
liberties seem to be conceived from a solid base, reflective, “knowledgeable”.
The original compositions are based on construction and precision, before
they are let free to the interpretation and the inspiration of the moment.
A double take of Ugly Beauty by Monk confirms this impression: even though
totally unusual, it shows profound respect to the musical heritage left by
the elders. That is also why this album will seem either audacious or conventional,
according to the sensibility of each listener. Without doubt, a certain knowledge
of the musical language is equally required in order to be able to appreciate
it totally. This does not keep In Time from having an immediate charm, which
leaves no doubt lingering about the talent and the creativity of the duo.
All this with a tranquil force and with reserve.
down melodies to their absolute essentials, by stripping the window dressing
and flourish from each and every note, Maneri and Karayorgis achieve humility
before the muse, and function as channels rather than egos. This recording
borders on the sublime. The music is spare, but it is neither minimalist nor
concept music. It is spontaneous, raw, and organic; complex in conception,
simple in execution. Tension and gentility walk hand-in -hand in the manner
of Bartok, but with more room for the accidental.
Melodic bits extracted from
the great planetary arioso ... this music soberly embraces our questions about
album is a quietist gem of concentration and elision which seems to develop
out of the elder Maneri's ideas. Pianist Karayorgis etches bare melodic shapes
while Maneri's violin snakes long convoluted lines with and against the grain
of his partner's playing. There's a powerful mood of disquiet about the music,
with no space for certainties. But despite this shifting unease, there's a
surprisingly homogeneous feel: there are no sudden departures from the rules
of the duo's game of controlled freedom. Well worth exploring.
In Time is another in a long line of uncompromising work from
Leo Records, one in which Karayorgis and violinist Mat Maneri show remarkable
Notes by Julia Werntz
The musician who desires to touch and affect his listeners yet also insists on taking them through uncharted territory must be able to navigate the course: to react immediately to the surprises which surface and arrange them into a compelling narrative. If this is accomplished, then all involved (performers and listeners) will experience a sense of really journeying somewhere. Maneri and Karayorgis demonstrate such an ability on this recording.
The points of
departure are six original compositions and two interpretations of s single
melody by the master of communicative introspection, Thelonious Monk. Monk's
compositions have been re-invented and re-stylized countless times, but what
occurs here is an internalization and abstraction of the music at hand, with
no attempt to "dress it up". The choice to perform this piece twice
is further evidence of the seriousness with which these two musicians treat
their material. Some might question the necessity for this type of exhaustive
persistence. However, in an age when there seems to be little patience for
the finest details of music-making, there is something stimulating and therefore
very valuable about a CD such as this which openly invites the listener to
| top |