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>the mi3:
>We Will Make A Home For You

 


 
 

We Will Make A Home For You
the mi3
Clean Feed CF039CD, 2005
More info from Clean Feed

Pandelis Karayorgis, Fender Rhodes electric piano
Nate McBride, bass
Curt Newton, drums


Recorded 2002-2003

Liner notes

available on Bandcamp

mi3 website

TRACK LISTING
1. Gazzelloni
(Eric Dolphy) 11:53
2. Ugly Beauty
(Thelonious Monk) 7:00
3. Shuffle Boil
(Thelonious Monk) 7:21
4. Three-Four vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways
(Hasaan Ibn Ali) 8:45
5. Monk's Point
(Thelonious Monk) 11:10
6. Three Plus Three
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 6:31
7. Centennial
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 4:02
8. Disambiguation
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 9:28
9. We See
(Thelonious Monk) 6:22

Total duration 72:32

Reviews
One could argue that the development of jazz (heck, all music) is the result of human inspiration colliding with the limitations of the instrument. The squeaks and squeals that distinguish free jazz from its more conservative cousins are a Sisyphean struggle to wrest transcendent meaning from the corporeal mundane. Some instruments are burdended with more corporeality than others. The tenor saxophone seems to lend itself to both the spiritual and the crotch. In the right hands, it can effortlessly glide in both directions. More contemporary electronic instruments tend toward the cold, leaving little room for struggles of the flesh.

What of the lowly Fender Rhodes electric piano? Championed in early fusion, it can sound quaint and dated, more like a toy popular in another era, like someone’s dusty pet rock. In the right hands, those timbres and tones are a medium unto themselves, clay to more traditional instruments’ marble. Sun Ra could make the thing move, rising above the low-fi crackle of those Saturn LPs like a UFO over Cleveland. At those moments, it seemed more like a natural extension of the imagination, an aid in getting the feet off the ground and into the cosmos.

Nate McBride (bass), Curt Newton (drums), and Pandelis Karayorgis (electric piano), christened as MI3, try their hand at creating a contemporary trio with the Fender Rhodes as cornerstone. This is less a Sun Ra trip to the stars and more an inward trip with jazz tradition as guide. The three sail through jazz classics like Dolphy’s “Gazzeloni” and Monk’s “Ugly Beauty”, as well as tunes that sprang original from Karayorgis’ head.

Watching the three wrangle with Monk is most fascinating. To these ears, Monk is all angles and rhythm. The Fender Rhodes is a bit ungainly. Add the two and there’s plenty of room for the aforementioned struggle between man and instrument. Oh, the things these guys do with Monk. It’s a testimony to Monk’s genius that his tunes survive even the lamest interpretations. To hear a truly inspired, searching version is illuminating, like seeing the inner workings of the thing for the first time. Try listening to “Ugly Beauty” on this disc without feeling a first-time surprise. Karayorgis teases melody from his machine while McBride and Newton add subtle propulsions and eddies. The music seems to glide forward, a three-way organic balance. Monk, to my ears, has never sounded so delicate, so much of the moment.

Karayorgis’ originals seem to be written with the Fender Rhodes in mind. There’s room in these nuggets for the rude noises and ringing notes of the instrument, spaces open to moth wing tones and clashing timbres. McBride and Newton move front and behind, always swinging and listening. Even more so than when they cover Monk or Dolphy, this is the sound of telepathic communication taken to the most inward extremes and without the need for bombast. There’s a deep speaking to each other and the listener. Nary a note seems misplaced, and all is in the service of making musical meaning.

This is a gem. The colors of the Rhodes, the level of musicianship, and good old inspiration make for the most musical of collisions. It hasn’t left my player for weeks. Limitations are seldom this tasty.
Dan Rose, OneFinalNote, 5 December 2005
link to review

mi3 is a smoking trio comprised of Pandelis Karayorgis (on Fender Rhodes!), bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Curt Newton. With a ton of history between them, this group might initially seem to confound expectations: after all, one expects to find Karayorgis playing an acoustic instrument, usually exploring quite arch improvisational intersections with new music. But the players certainly sound full-voiced and confident, as this session -- culled from a long run at Somerville's Abbey Lounge -- is bitingly hot from the outset, with nary a tentative moment from the fantastic keyboardist (who explores all the timbral and textural possibilities at his disposal, and occasionally uses some wicked distortion on the keys). Benefiting from this club residency, the trio is super-relaxed and generally in an expansive mood. The set consists mostly of Monk tunes, with three Karayorgis originals (including "Disambiguation," one of my faves), one by Hasaan Ibn Ali, and a crushingly good version of [Eric Dolphy's] "Gazzelloni." After a few listens -- especially to their quirky, ruminative "Ugly Beauty" and shifty, mischevious "Monk's Point" -- it's apparent that, as with the best Monk interpreters, there's no slavish appropriation of key monastic gestures. Instead, the trio invests the tunes with their own personality, especially so on their joyous romps through "We See" and "Shuffle Boil." Give it up, by the way, for McBride and Newton, one of the best (and most undersung) tandems out there, on par with Gress and Rainey (and in the same improvisational ballpark, for that matter). Just listen to them navigate the knotty course of Ali's "3/4 vs. 6/8 4/4 Time"! It's a killer recording, another feather in Clean Feed's cap.
Jason Bivins, Signal to Noise, Winter 2006 (Issue 40), p. 62 

Keith Jarrett said he stopped playing the electric piano after his Miles’ fusion years because it was only a toy. A toy maybe, but in the hands of Pandelis Karayorgis it makes for a very fresh experience. The mi3 trio plays Fender Rhodes piano against acoustic bass/drums on original compositions, plus four by Thelonious Monk and “Gazzelloni” by Eric Dolphy. The deft rhythm section of Curt Newton and Nate McBride (check them out with Ken Vandermark in the band Tripleplay) set up the experiments here. The inside/outside take on music, especially Monk, is served well by Karayorgis’ use of distortion and wah pedals. This now seemingly very “old-school” sound get a boost with all the effects laid down.
Mark Corroto, All About Jazz (website)

Monk never played the Fender Rhodes, unless there's a private recording out there we've never heard (and how much would you pay to get hold of a copy?). He experimented with celesta on dates for Riverside, but never took the quantum leap to an amplified keyboard. Part of it was probably timing, his retreat from performing coinciding with the Fender's rise in popularity thanks to funk and fusion. But there's a sense too that Thelonious just didn't buy into the newfangled technology, preferring the purity of acoustic ivories to the plugged in variety. Pandelis Karayorgis makes a convincing case for the Fender's fit into a Monkian compositional universe on this new disc by his longstanding trio with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Curt Newton, now operating under the abbreviated moniker MI3. The electric piano's properties mesh with the angular harmonic elements of signature Monk ventures like "Ugly Beauty," here slowed to a snail's crawl and sounding more than a little like a Sun Ra outtake circa "Advice for Medics," and the closing "We See," which switches reference points to Mwandishi-era Hancock.

A basic difference lies in the instrument's layered density and fully mutable pitch sustains, the harmonic crevasses of the Monk terrain filled in with tones that are often continuous rather than craggy or curtailed. This sometimes leads to a sanding of edges, but Karayorgis cleverly injects his own share of floating distortion and dissonance into the action to keep things sharp without forsaking a groove. His own compositions, of which there are three, come in a cluster during the disc's second half and are very much in line with the covers bookending them, especially the hard-swinging "Three Plus Three." McBride and Newton work as equal foils, upending and embellishing the action with ideas of their own, and the snap of gut and the crack of wood on skin make for a lively contrast with the swirling sonorities spilling from the cabinet speakers of the Fender console.

McBride also has a hand in the program including an epic reading of Dolphy's "Gazzelloni" (once again an unexpectedly kosher fit for the keys) and "3/4 vs 6/8 4/4 Time" from the long-forgotten quill of Max Roach confrère The Legendary Hassan, here given a completely Space-Age makeover with a snaking wah-wah-juiced central line and a tempo that as the title so succinctly dictates refuses to be nailed down. In recent years Craig Taborn has championed the Fender Rhodes in his own groups and those of Tim Berne, and with Karayorgis now in the game we might have the makings of a minor, and long overdue, renaissance for the instrument in improvisatory music settings.
Derek Taylor, Paris Transatlantic, October 2005
link to review

If you asked me to make a long enough wish-list for musical projects, I'm sure I'd wind up asking for a trio with an elite post-jazz keyboardist smearing a Fender Rhodes electric piano over a snap-crackle-pop free jazz rhythm section. You can imagine how great it felt to have any such wish pre-empted by a disc that jumps right into the stratosphere with a leadoff take on Dolphy's "Gazzelloni" that fits the proposable scheme as tight as I could hope for.

This disc just destroys me, and I've even been cranking it louder than I'm prone to just to bathe in the celestial ringing textures of the Fender Rhodes. The keyboardist is an unlikely candidate to join the ranks of Craig Taborn, Judith Berkson, Jamie Saft, etc in the vanguard of post-jazz electric piano experimentalism, Pandelis Karayorgis. Here's a consummate baton-holder for the piano jazz tradition who has gone as deep as anyone else of his generation into the acoustic nuances of the instrument applied to the canon of Monk, Ellington, et al. Amazingly, he's managed to transfer his connection to Monk to this radically different timbral and phrasal situation, with four of the nine cuts here being revelatory passes through the well-thumbed Monk songbook. A left-field gem from Hasaan Ibn Ali rounds out a program with space left for three Karayorgis originals, including a take on "Disambiguation" that makes for an incredible side-by-side with the version on his splendid Leo release with Mat Maneri, Michael Formanek, Tom Rainey, and Tony Malaby; I can't help but feeling the edgy sustains and amoebic note shapes Maneri characteristically brought to the piece are being handled by the incredible sound possibilities of the Rhodes keyboard in Karayorgis' hands.

Doublebassist Nate McBridge and drumkitter Curt Newton form one of the best rhythm sections you could possibly ask for to play this music. This is one of the ultra-elite groove units of the recent era in jazz. They backed Ken Vandermark in the Tripleplay trio that Clean Feed broadcast to the world last year and Boxholder introduced in 2000. They were the engine that drove Joe Morris' landmark Symbolic Gestures release on Soul Note and one of the monumental Joe Morris Quartet opuses with Mat Maneri. And those are just the better-known exploits. mi3 is possibly the new peak in the pairing's long history; the trio had a chance to become a throbbing unified organism with a long-running weekly house gig for an avant-jazz series in the Boston area. Newton and McBride just explode all over the place here and swing like there's no tomorrow in between. Newton is one of the great connoisseurs of gourmet drumkit timbres; every cymbal hit, rim tap, and snare roll reflects both top-notch equipment and the kind of precise touch that separates sublime dynamic slopes from time-keeping prairies. The timbral nuances he brought to the Steelwool Trio (with Vandermark and Kessler) are the crucial factor that made it a major highlight of 90s jazz. He's also the kind of weathered jazzer totally comfortable dealing with the fringes of his chosen specialty--look no further than his legendary erstwhile unit Debris and their travels from Berne-inspired cellular groove permutations to aggressive jazz-rock skronk.

How do you spice up the traditional piano trio? One way is to use drum-heavy rock rhythms, as the Bad Plus does. Another is the mi3 way, replace the piano with a Fender Rhodes electric model and whack the hell out of it. "We Will Make A Home For You" finds pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and a fine rhythm section conjuring a bold, fuzz-filled noise reminiscent of the early '70s when musicians like Paul Bley, Jan Hammer, and Chick Corea began to use electric keyboards toward really wild ends. This trio takes a number of more difficult Sixties Jazz pieces like Eric Dolphy's "Gazzelloni," Hassan Ibn Ali's "3/4 Vs. 6/8 4/4 Time" and Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Point" and sets them to wicked grooves. Nate McBride and Curt Newton play fat and tight rhythms and Karayorgis leaps all over them with noisy wah-wah and reverb-filled runs mixed with bits of abstraction. There are some slower moments from the group as well. Monk's "Shuffle Boil" gets a graceful waltz treatment and Karayorgis' own "Centennial" is a slow, quiet walk that sounds like one of Joe Zawinul's more introspective pieces. This is a side of music that's lain neglected for thirty years and it's great to have someone take up the Fender Rhodes standard again and work it so exuberantly.
Jerome Wilson, Cadence Magazine, April 2006

Beautifully recorded, the disc is really driven by the magical timbres of the three instruments, unblemished by the inevitable cliches of an acoustic piano. Karayorgis doesn't limit himself to the straight Rhodes sound; he uses some choice guitar pedals to take things even further out into that zone of blissful fuzz-buzz-sponge-texture wafting of Soft Machine, Isotope, late 60s and early 70s Miles Davis, etc. Canterbury fans take note: this is THE avant-jazz disc you've been waiting for. Just on the basis of the woozy processed electric piano vibe and texturalized melodicism, I would also recommend this one to fans of Squarepusher's One Rotted Note."
Michael Anton Parker, DMG (Downtown Music Gallery), October 2005
link to review

Surprenante de prime abord, l’utilisation du fender rhodes par Pandelis Karayorgis participe de la même démarche que celle qu’avait déjà élaboré le pianiste grâce au piano microtonal de Joe Maneri. Ici, à travers un répertoire faisant la part belle aux thèmes de Thelonious Monk, le son se fait sale, gluant. Et si les premières notes du Gazzeloni d’Eric Dolphy (un choix tout sauf innocent !) nous font irrésistiblement penser à l’orgue foutraque d’Alice Coltrane, c’est plutôt du côté des formations électriques de Miles avec Corea et Hancock que le pianiste tire son inspiration. Chez Karayorgis, un désir évident et obsessionnel de questionner la note. Non pas l’harmonie mais la note, sa vibration, sa portée, sa fonction. Que le pianiste reprenne ses recherches ici, dans un répertoire maintes fois rabâché, prouve la sincérité et l’authenticité du musicien. Ce qui aurait pu n’être que curiosité échappe à cet écueil, précisément grâce à cette sincérité et à une respiration musicale jamais prise en défaut ici. Ainsi l’utilisation que fait Karyaorgis du fender rhodes possède ce mérite de ne jamais noyer l’espace et d’offrir à la rythmique un terrain de jeu très étendu (admirables Nate McBride et Curt Newton, si justes et si sensibles).
Personnellement, j’en redemande.
Luc Bouquet, Jazz etc.

link to review

Brincar às casinhas
No já vasto colar da Clean Feed, destaca-se essa pérola de bom gosto que é o novo disco de Pandelis Karayorgis, We Will Make a Home for You. Em trio com o contrabaixista Nate McBride e o baterista Curt Newton (esses mesmos, os do Tripleplay de Ken Vandermark), Karayorgis, um valor em ascensão, com amplas perspectivas de desenvolvimento de carreira, surpreende o ouvinte com um trio, não de piano tout court, mas de Fender Rhodes, preparado com a adição de pedais de guitarra. Interessante, ham?! Muito. E o resultado também, adianto já. Em 9 temas, quatro são de Thelonious Monk (Ugly Beauty, Shuffle Boil, Monk's Point, We See), um de Hasaan Ibn Ali, pianista e compositor de disco único, com Max Roach e Art Davis (3/4 vs. 6/8 4/4 Time) e três originais do pianista Pandelis (Three Plus Three, Centennial e Disambiguation). E há Gazzelloni, de Dolphy, neste belo e refrescante disco de música moderna improvisada. Ou de jazz, se assim der mais jeito. É agarrá-lo antes que se esgote! MI3 é uma especialidade... .
link to review

E' dall'inverno del 2002 - con le serate all'Abbey Lounge di Cambridge, nel Massachusetts - che il pianista Pandelis Karayorgis e il bassista Nate McBride conducono un proprio personalissimo viaggio attraverso l'improvvisazione, raggiunti poi dal batterista Curt Newton a formare il trio MI3.
Come spesso accade, le idee scaturiscono anche dalla necessita' e l'utilizzo del fender rhodes in questa formazione e' stato provocato sia dalla mancanza del pianoforte nel luogo dove suonavano, sia dalla parallela curiosita' di trovare nuove strade timbriche. Per questo motivo il pianista ha aggiunto pedali e effetti allo strumento, nell'intenzione di una maggiore varieta' espressiva e per evitare l'effetto omologante del suono originale.
Le tracce raccolte in questo disco provengono sia dall'Abbey Lounge che dall'Artist At Large Gallery di Hyde Park, Boston, e sono incentrate prevalentemente su temi di Thelonious Monk, anche se non mancano un Eric Dolphy d'apertura, un paio di originali di Karayorgis e un brano di Hasaan.
Chiaramente quello che esce da tante serate di lavoro assieme e' un'ottima coesione sonora, un lavoro di continua rifinitura del materiale che va di pari passo con la familiarita' e l'empatia: una sonorita' sghemba e come appesa tra passato e futuro ha bisogno di temi sghembi e la scelta di lavorare sul materiale monkiano risulta in quest'ottica molto naturale.

I tre si conoscono a memoria, rilanciano, si divertono, interagiscono secondo le traiettorie che al momento li sorprendono, dilatando le situazioni e smontandole per offrire l'uno all'altro il cuore dei meccanismi sonori. I brani contengono cosi' spesso spunti interessanti, anche se un paio di aspetti - tra l'altro abbastanza inevitabili, di cui non si puo' dare certo colpa ai bravissimi musicisti - rischiano di appesantire l'ascolto.
Mi riferisco in particolare alla questione timbrica, che pure nelle possibilita' date dai pedali e dagli effetti [che rimandano spesso a sonorita' da rock progressivo], rimane sempre piuttosto peculiare e fissa, quindi ad alto rischio di stucchevolezza e, in secondo luogo, alla durata dei pezzi - tutti mediamente superiori ai sei, sette minuti - che sembrano piu' consoni al live che non al disco, specie quando l'organico e' cosi' caratterizzato.
Non mancano comunque ottimi momenti, come "Ugly Beauty" e una lacerante "We See" finale, forse abbastanza traditrice dello spirito originale di Monk, ma non per questo meno visionaria.
Enrico Bettinello, All About Jazz (Italian site) Valutazione: * * *
link to review

Czy można grać Monka na gitarze elektrycznej? Albo na harfie? Można spróbować. Każdy akt twórczy jest kompromisem miedzy wizją i możliwościami tworzywa. Mieszkający w Bostonie grecki pianista Pandelis Karayorgis postanowił na płycie dla znakomitej portugalskiej wytwórni Clean Feed nagrać materiał klasyka na elektrycznym pianinie Fender Rhodes. Czyli trochę sobie utrudnić. Pozornie.

Pomysł intrygujący. Enigmatyczne, trochę rozmyte brzmienie pianina Fender Rhodes słychać choćby na płycie Milesa Davisa "Filles de Kilimanjaro". Na "Grand Wazoo" Franka Zappy w utworze "Blessed Relief" cudowne solo na tym instrumencie gra George Duke. Perliste dźwięki o rozwibrowanych konturach budowały specyficzną atmosferę jazz-rockowych hybryd w początku lat 70. Ostatnio wróciły do łaski wraz z modą na ciepłe brzmienie analogowych instrumentów elektrycznych.

Na omawianym krążku nie ma jednak mowy o muzycznym recyclingu i traktowaniu instrumentu w charakterze brzmieniowego fetyszu. Pandelis Karayorgis to poważny absolwent bostońskiego konserwatorium, w latach 1992-93 dyrektor Thelonious Monk Repertory Ensemble, mający za sobą współpracę z tej klasy muzykami co Mat i Joe Maneri, Ken Vandermark, Michael Formanek, czy też argentyński architekt dźwięku Guillermo Gregorio. Formację MI3 uzupełniają znani choćby ze współpracy z Kenem Vandermarkiem basista Nate McBride, i perkusista Curt Newton. Na płycie znalazły się zarówno utwory z repertuaru Monka ("Ugly Beauty", "Monk`s Point", "Shuffle Boil", "We See"), jaki i oryginalne kompozycje Karayorgisa oraz, rzecz niebywała, "Gazzeloni" z repertuaru Erica Dolphy.

Słuchanie utworów Monka w interpretacji tej trójki muzyków ma w sobie coś z rozbierania babcinego budzika na części. Niby nie wolno, pewnie nie będzie wiadomo jak potem złożyć w całość, a jednak coś kusi by sprawdzić jak wygląda w środku, jak działa, co go napędza. Pastelowy kontrabas Nate'a i czujna perkusja Curta są jak mechanizm napędzający całą zabawę, podczas gdy Pandelis toczy nierówna walkę z niezgrabnymi, karykaturalnymi dźwiękami wydobywanym z wnętrza elektrycznego pianina. Nieprzystawalność brzmienia i wyobrażeń o tym jakie być powinno podkreśla dodatkowo kapryśność harmonii Monka, nadaje jej nieco surrealistyczną subtelność i perwersyjną grację. Nie ma tu za grosz pietyzmu i nudnej wierności oryginałowi. Jest próba wykręcenia na drugą stronę, postawienia na głowie. Tyle że z tych prób kompozycje Wielkiego Mnicha wychodzą zawsze nienaruszone.

Oryginalne kompozycje Karayorgisa wydają się współistnieć z łobuzerską naturą instrumentu na który zostały skomponowane. Jest w nich miejsce dla wszystkich pogłosów, przesterowań, trzasków, szmerów i perlistych wibracji. Obserwowanie jak z niedoskonałości (tu brzmienia) artysta formuje swój przekaz jest frapujące i wciągające. Można odnieść wrażenie współuczestniczenia w procesie twórczym, który jest równocześnie i eksperymentem i zabawą. W wypadku utworu Dolphy'ego natomiast, nareszcie słychać jak blisko koncepcji rytmicznych i harmonicznych Monka był ten genialny artysta. To wersja jak z drugiej strony lustra Alicji, enigmatyczna i budząca apetyt na więcej.

Słuchając tych dźwięków w innej rzeczywistości niż nasza, pan Thelonious odstawia pucharek swoich ukochanych lodów, by spojrzeć na okładkę płyty i zapamiętać dziwne nazwisko człowieka, któremu kiedyś szepnie z sympatią do ucha "Tak właśnie, kolego".
Olaf Piotrowski, diapazon.pl

Si se atiende a las fechas de grabación (transcurre más de un año entre la primera toma y la última) puede, a priori, presuponerse la inconsistencia de un producto construido con las sobras de distintas sesiones de estudio. En absoluto coincide esta suposición con el proceso de creación de We Will Make A Home For You, disco nacido de las continuas sesiones del mi3 como grupo residente en el Abbey Lounge de Cambridge (inicialmente), y en la Artist At Large de Boston (en su final).

La ausencia de piano acústico en el Abbey Lounge forzó a Karayorgis a indagar sobre los sonidos del Fender Rhodes, dando además por buena la propuesta de McBride de usar los efectos de diversos pedales, como el Mutron, el Wah Wah y el pedal de distorsión. El experimento tiene su columna vertebral en cuatro composiciones de Monk y tres piezas originales de Karayorgis. Aunque a ratos el excesivo uso del pedal enmascara el sonido del Fender Rhodes, asemejándose éste al manto distorsionado de una guitarra eléctrica, y perdiéndose el grano fino del desarrollo de los temas, el resultado es satisfactorio en líneas generales: el piano eléctrico y los pedales, con sonidos solapados y distorsionados, consiguen el revelado en negativo de las melodías de Monk, llenas de notas percutidas y contrarritmos. Las composiciones de Karayorgis son frescas, y con un espacio bien reservado para el contrabajo. La grabación queda redondeada con la inclusión de un rincón experimental: 3/4 vs 6/8 4/4 Time firmada por Hasaan Ibn Ali, y Gazzelloni de Eric Dolphy.
www.tomajazz.com





click on image or here for link to bagatellen.com

 

Liner Notes by Pandelis Karayorgis, Curt Newton, Nate McBride
In the winter of 2002 Nate McBride and I started a weekly jazz and improvised music series at the Abbey Lounge in Cambridge, Mass., which he named "mim" (for modern improvised music). Curt Newton, with whom we both had a longstanding musical relationship, joined us in forming the mi3 trio, the house band for that series. (The mim series ran weekly until that summer at the Abbey. In the fall of 2002, it relocated to the 'Artists At Large' gallery in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, where Nate continued to run it until he left for Chicago in the summer of 2004.)

We chose to use the electric piano partly out of necessity, since the Abbey had no piano, and partly out of curiosity for the effect it would have on our music. We processed the Fender Rhodes sound using some pedals that Nate lent me; a vintage Mutron, a Wah pedal, and a distortion pedal. It was very exciting for me to work with the long sustain, volume and timbral variety the Rhodes could offer when combined with these pedals. This was an opportunity to explore something different, and the discoveries in sound and texture energized us all to try new musical ideas.
In the following season we continued playing from time to time at the mim's new location, and we also did a two-month weekly run there as part of the 'mim residency' series, performing with this electric trio through the spring of 2004.
Parts of this CD were recorded live both at the Abbey Lounge and at the 'Artists At Large' gallery. Nate contributed some of the more intriguing repertoire choices on this CD, especially the Hasaan and Dolphy selections, to which we added compositions by Thelonious Monk and some originals.
PK

Regular weekly gigs are a coveted situation for any creative musician. Rehearsals are good, but when it comes to ensemble evolution there’s no substitute for the steady gig. No surprise in such situations that the weekly home starts to weave its way into the character of the music.
The Abbey Lounge is a great tiny dark seedy dive of a bar that usually hosts the less-cerebral sides of the Boston rock scene. No piano? No kidding -- there’s absolutely nothing “lounge” about the Abbey. So after enjoying playing with Nate and Pandelis for years in more “respectable” acoustic settings, it was both refreshing and an absolute necessity to step outside the piano trio conventions with this situation. We had to take advantage of what the Abbey had to offer, and not bemoan what it lacked.
Some familiar compositions were recast or reborn in this new setting; a few others didn’t survive the transition, but that’s all part of the process. It pushed all of our envelopes, individually and collectively. With a new vocabulary of density, timbre and volume, Pandelis could become relentless in digging into a single idea; at other times, seeming to let the very idea of an idea be washed away in pure sound. I remember how Nate or I would give a quick sideways nod, “NOW!,” and suddenly we’re in a roiling groove that surprised and delighted us all. And listening to the recording now, I’m also struck by the simplicity and directness of some performances, qualities I think we’ve all been seeking to develop in our music the past few years.
When our time at the Abbey finished, the group’s identity was clear. We had something new and powerful to work with, something that carried over quite well to other venues like the Artists at Large Gallery. And it also carried over to the way the three of us played back in the acoustic setting, but that’s a story for another disk’s liner notes….
CN

We've been playing some of these pieces together for a long time, and it's not just the change in Pandelis's instrument that makes this Ugly Beauty utterly different from one we might have played in 1991. A good piece for improvisors lays out a specific and enduringly new thrill, but the instructions are incomplete. The goal, when attained in a given performance—the expression of a particular form of energy whose pattern is contained in the written work—is so transformed each time as to be new to those who chose to chase it. Repetition only dims the effect.
To attempt to release Ugly Beauty's brilliant potential energy demands even more faith in each other than in the strength of Monk's monumental composition: like every band of improvising familiars, we have to be new to each other each time. To have attempted it many times together has provided chances to deepen our appreciation of some truly beloved music, while testing and extending a musical connection between individuals which has proved fundamental--––and has generated, spent, and generated again countless watts of energy in the service of surprise, inevitability, trust, speed, hope, forward motion.
NM

 

 

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