If you (criss) cross Cecil Taylor with Thelonious Monk, what do you get? The answer could be Pandelis Karayorgis. He's been compared to both, and I was prepared to hear Taylorish Monk tunes having read the comparisons and seen the preponderance of Monk compositions on his new recording. What this disc revealed, however, was an accomplished improviser who has successfully melded the quirkiness and wit of Monk with Taylor's restless pianism. Monk the composer comes out, as expected, in such pieces as Evidence and Trinkle Tinkle. But the pianistic side of Monk appears as well in the standards When Sunny Gets Blue or Bye Bye Blackbird. Add the European atonalism of Taylor, and what you get in Karayorgis is an artist who not only knows how to chose the right "wrong" notes, but one who at the same time explores the inexhaustible timbral possibilities of the instrument. He can caress the keys with the lyrical touch of Bill Evans, too. Listen to the duet with the drummer Erik Kerr on Introspection. It's not contrived music, though. The stylistic influences are all harmoniously joined in such a way that one gets the sense Karayorgis is headed towards a singular voice. ... the music is stimulating, at times surprising, and certainly original. To his credit, Karayorgis has chosen some of Monk's less frequently done tunes, and it's interesting to hear how he approaches the music with a partner and then without.
Dan Shimp, Crosswinds, March 1993, Albuquerque, NM
question of emulation over innovation is particularly perplexing for those
exploring the frontiers of creative improvised music. The credo of the free
music revolution was one of relentless innovation. But boundaries can only
be pushed so far at one time, and once that's accomplished those inspired
to play by the first and second generation of innovators are likely to start
looking back. But the legacy of those innovators is so heady it takes awhile
for their followers to move out of their shadows and define their own contributions.
These discs move in that direction. Don't be deceived by the repertoire of
Pandelis Karayorgis's disc. What might appear to be another retro-bop outing
revisiting Monk, Ellington, and the standard songbook, is in reality an uncompromisingly
intense deconstruction of these tunes. ... the pianist takes his dissections
of the master's (Monk's) works further. He separates each sinew for study.
He approaches the Ellington and other songs in a similar fashion. But he also
keeps the melody of the song in play, giving these the sense of extended if
highly abstract theme statements. The work demands concentration; a scholarly
quietude pervades the tracks ... The one original, Three Parts Of A Name,
represents the personal use to which Karayorgis puts the knowledge derived
from his investigations. The listener interested in challenging variations
on familiar material will be rewarded for the concentration necessary to appreciate
pianist is heard solo, and in duets with violinist Mat Maneri, whose plain-spoken
near-vibratoless style is a perfect fit, and drummer Erik Kerr, whose sometimes
aggressive rhythmic counterpoint is fresh and spontaneous. Karayorgis' melancholy,
abstract, spatially open Pannonica alone marks him as a student of ... Ran
Blake. Blake's Lennie Tristano influence surfaces in Karayorgis' whirlpool
motion (Cole Porter's I Love You), and Karayorgis shares his teacher's sensitive
keyboard touch. But this CD fares better than Blake's recent Monk recital
Epistrophy (Soul Note). Karayorgis catches a lot of Monk's musical values
without cloning his clank.
album! Nice sound on piano.
is a Greek-born pianist whose whole musical approach hinges on fragments.
Listen to his version of Thelonious Monk's EvidenceKarayorgis fractures
the song's rhythm, melody, and even the time. His approach echoes that of
Ran Blake, a champion of Karayorgis and sometimes Paul Bley. Karayorgis's
partners are also willing to fragment this music. A third of the recording
is with violinist Mat Maneri, who plays musical hide-and-seek with the pianist.
Their reading of Body and Soul has to be one of the most disembodied on record;
Maneri's diving and swelling lines are in secure accord with Karayorgis's
own playing. The seven solo pieces are the most grabbing and endearingespecially
Evidence and Bye Bye Blackbird. Karayorgis's name may be difficult to remember,
but his piano playing deserves considerable notice.
suspensin of any and all traditional concepts of melody, harmony and rhythm
still leaves me wide-eyed, and I have the utmost respect for those who can
pull it off. Gifted with great technical facility, Greek pianist Pandelis
Karayorgis can and does pull it off, and his collaborators ... are undeniably
talented. This disc showcases the collective, and individual virtuosity of
all three. ... Body And Soul sounded like someone had spilled a bottle of
correction fluid on the manuscript ... but it still made for fascinating listening.
The Other Name is ideal for the out as well as the outward bound.
of a young pianist, Pandelis Karayorgis, American of Greek origin, in the
world of improvised music with a CD that is substantial, and removed from
the anodyne bombardment of hard bop clones.
… The listener who doesn’t “get it”
is branded as some sort of inferior being whose musical knowledge is limited
to ad jingles or corny pop tunes. Any criticism of this style is sloughed
or laughed off by the artist as the feeble workings of an insensitive or ignorant
mind. The implications of such a mind-set are both obvious and ominous. These
musicians consider themselves higher beings than their audience, and probably
sit around sighing in frustrated anger that their work has such a limited
appeal. They are so convinced that what they are doing is not only right,
but Music Of The Future, that they are willing to wait until after they’re
dead to be appreciated. … The head gurus of this new style are alto
saxophonist Joe Maneri, who teaches in Boston, and his son, violinist Mat
Maneri. They have been struggling to get students and fellow-musicians to
accept their gospel for years, and now they appear to have found both a willing
pupil in Greek-born pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and obsequious critics in
various newspapers and magazines.
This is a contemporary recording of young musicians engaged
in experimental jazz improvisations. … Even after repeated listening
I find it impossible to decide what the musicians are attempting to achieve.
The short pieces mostly sound much longer than they actually are and tedium
is the main order of the day. Everything is low key, disjointed, unmelodic
and unrhythmic too. In the final section of duets with drummer Erik Kerr,
Karayorgis demonstrates a working knowledge of some Monk compositions, but
anyone wanting to hear new ways of playing Monk should listen to the supremely
talented Jessica Williams, currently doing just that. In his solo playing
Karayorgis manages to destroy the melodic and harmonic structure of such strong
tunes as Star Crossed Lovers and When Sunny Gets Blue, which takes some doing.
This CD may interest collectors of the bizarre or those intent on following
every aspect of new trends in jazz, but the young musicians are ill-served
by the sloppy production of the album. Personally I shall want to hear something
more positive before being convinced that they have anything really new, or
interesting, to offer.
The failure of these two albums by local pianists Karayorgis
and Carlberg owes much to their inability to extend the legacy of Thelonious
Monk and the avant garde. Karayorgis is a fanatic Monk worshipper who covers
no fewer than eight of the master’s tunes. He gets the odd note placements
and the minimalist approach right, but he offers few insights or new twists
on the music. … the sense of a new voice is missing. The sole original
tune, Three Parts of a Name, is the kind of beep-and-squawk nightmare that
helps give the avant garde a bad name. … neither has a clear vision
of future directions.
| top |