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>Between Speech & Song



Between Speech & Song
Cadence CJR 1055, 1994

Eric Pakula, alto sax
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
Jonathan Robinson, bass
Eric Rosenthal, drums
and guest:
Mat Maneri, electric violin

Recorded December 1993

available on Bandcamp

1. Wild White Rat
(E. Pakula) 4:02
2. Me & Kate
(E. Pakula) 4:57
3. Pass The Butter
(E. Pakula) 7:04
4. Jerky Sockets
(P.Karayorgis) 4:48
5. If I Fall In Love
(E. Pakula) 5:16
6. Lennie's Pennies
(Lennie Tristano) 3:26
7. Tell Me, Tell Me
(P.Karayorgis) 6:47
8. Tritone Tango Blues
(E. Pakula) 5:40
9. Segment
(E. Pakula) 2:04
10. August Thursday
(P.Karayorgis) 4:56
11. I Know Why You‚re Lonely
(E. Pakula) 5:54
12. Eric's Alto Ego
(P.Karayorgis) 4:13
13. Augmented Blues
(E. Pakula) 3:52
14. Election
(E. Pakula) 1:07


Between Speech & Song was voted among the top-10 new CD releases of 1994 in the Cadence magazine Readers Record Poll, as well as in two of their critic's top-10 choices of 1994. It was also among the Top Ten releases of 1994 in the magazine SOS Jazz, Youngstown, Ohio.

I like music that challenges me, making me listen not necessarily through force of volume but with its melodic inventiveness, shifting rhythms, and (often) nerve. Out of Cambridge, Mass, comes a quartet led by saxophonist Eric Pakula, drummer Eric Rosenthal, and pianist Pandelis Karayorgis. Their music is based in the performances of early Ornette Coleman and Lennie Tristano. The first aspect of the music that the listener should appreciate is how clear the music sounds. Rosenthal ( a student of the late Ed Blackwell at Wesleyan University) is a clean uncluttered drummer while bassist Jonathan Robinson plays in a musical yet supportive manner. At times, Karayorgis moves more towards the technically realized style of Herbie Nichols or towards the more creatively playful sounds of Jaki Byard. His opening solo is full-handed, with shards of dissonant chords and humorous lines. Eric's Alto Ego, written by the pianist for Pakula, contains a wonderfully insane piano solo with Karayorgis heading directly for the edge, steering clear of the tried and true. I Know Why You're Lonely is a lovely ballad from Pakula. The song begs for a vocal but, in its stead, is a lovely alto part. I could talk about every track but you should discover this gem for yourself. I have no idea if this group plays club dates, but I bet they are a gas in person. This group is extremely tight and loose at the same time. The melodies are strong and the musicianship impressive-one never gets the feeling that any of these guys are just showing off. This is one of those recordings on which the group's identity is set within the first thirty seconds and it never wavers. I highly recommend you discover just how accurate the title, Between Speech & Song is for the music that Messrs. Pakula, Karayorgis, Rosenthal and Robinson have created.
Richard B. Kamins, Cadence, October 1994

Buried Treasure: Uncovering The Best Unknown Musical Releases Of '94:
This young Boston group revives the spirit of early Ornette Coleman with jazz as emotional as it is abstract.
Larry Katz, Boston Herald, January 5, 1995

A mixture of mellow mood jazz and spicy solo work highlight this new disc. Pakula's chiming alto sax leads the rolling shuffle of the rhythm section while allowing enough space for the grooves to breathe. Echoes of early Miles occasionally trickle down as in the loping melody of If I Fall In Love and Lennie Tristano's Lennie's Pennies, blending old and new, though Pakula says he feels "like all my tunes have been around for centuries, and I just have to be aware enough to find them." Wild White Rat chugs along at an amiable, near-bop pace, while Jerky Sockets is one of the happiest sounding improvs to come along in recent years. Karayorgis's encompassing piano work twists and turns in offbeat directions, sometimes dipping in the universe of the whole-tone scale. Jonathan Robinson's bass and Eric Rosenthal's drumming provide a strong anchor. As either cerebral or cafe fare, this is an independent collection worth seeking.
Roger Len Smith, Jazziz, October 1994

Another striking instrumental voice belongs to Boston altoist Eric Pakula, who co-leads Between Speech & Song (Cadence Jazz, ****) with pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and drummer Eric Rosenthal. (Jonathan Robinson plays bass.) Picture messy Tristano music­an oxymoron, I know; it's linear but painted with a broad brush. Pakula's style is informed by Lee Konitz's cottony tone and orderly lines, but the overall effect is outlandish; like Dolphy he pushes harmonic and intonational relationships to the brink. Pakula's woozy glisses appear to stem less from Johnny Hodges' graceful slinking than drunken tailgate trombone (he quotes the bewhiskered "Melancholy Baby"). Karayorgis, who's made several nifty records in the last couple of years­usually with violinist Mat Maneri­has a lot of Monk plunk in his concept, but he's flexible and individual, conveying a broad historical sense at the same time The music on this sleeper is traditional and rude at the same time; what's not to like?
Kevin Whitehead, Tower/Pulse, February 1995

Alto saxophonist Pakula's tone and execution are redolent of great avant garde altoists like Julious Hemphill and Ornette Coleman. Less frayed than Coleman but more angular and laid back, Pakula and pianist Karayorgis create sometimes stark but always beautiful Lennie Tristano-ish bop that will startle even the most "out" inspired improvisoid and please aficionados of bop and its numerous streams. With 14 shorter tunes, the quartet (completed by bassist Jonathan Robinson) turns grooves inside out with a stateliness that is always rhythmically linear if harmonically complicated and dense. Very highly recommended.
Andy Bartlett, Victory Review, January 1995

This here is your atypical trad jazz, without any of the stodginess and cliché. It's a completely irreverent band having fun with a genre that can use a good kick in the pants. There are bits of Monk in the keyboard work and compositions, and the alto is as much Ornette Coleman as anyone else on "Wild River Rat." (sic) The bass plays it straight (someone has to), while drummer Rosenthal shows some humor to go with his nice chops on brushes and sticks.
Rosenthal uses his chops and brains in just the right proportions. In "Pass The Butter" he plays a nice tom-tom pattern reminiscent of Ahmad Jamal's grooves, while Pakula's alto sax mingles famously with the mad plunking of Karayorgis. "Tritone Tango Blues" is a hilarious spin of acoustic fusion featuring electric violin and the drummer's multi-kulti visions. "Jerky Sockets" shows Rosenthal's mind for the polyrhythmic, and proves that Karayorgis' material is every bit as deranged as Pakula's. It's well-played and it'll crack you up. Now that's good music.
Robin Tolleson, Modern Drummer, June 1995

Between Speech & Song might be an apt description of jazz music as it hovered in the post-bebop framework of the late fifties, when Miles, Monk, Herbie Nichols and others were writing music that seemed to make the song form denser and more complex, yet at unexpected moments beckoned toward a wider freedom.

I know I just wrote that reviewers shouldn't write about the liner notes, but Pakula's images of intense, joyous woodshedding bring to mind the late fifties milieu that Roswell Rudd described in the great piece on Herbie Nichols that he wrote for a long-gone Blue Note "twofer." Indeed it is Nichols' work, of the above composers, that this music most evokes, with its deceptively simple constructions that build to startling and passionate climaxes within a few bars. Pakula's and Karayorgis' compositions are more overtly complex, but work the territory between structure and freedom with similar effectiveness. In doing so, they bring to mind that period (circa 1960), with its intense debates over freedom versus "form". That debate hardly seems timely now, and there is a welcome gusto to the "free" elements here - free not only harmonically, but free of the need to explain every note in terms of its context. Because nowhere between speech and song does the music have to explain itself.
David Lee, Coda, June 1995, Canada

A quartet album, Between Speech & Song (Cadence) features the dazzling young alto saxophonist Eric Pakula with pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, drummer Eric Rosenthal and bassist Jonathan Robinson. Billed as Pakula-Karayorgis-Rosenthal—it sounds as if Robinson doesn’t have much job security—the band launches into an organic, angular music that remains approachable despite its free jazz sensibilities. Along with groups like Medeski, Martin & Wood and the Jazz Passengers … this accessible yet adventurous ensemble represents one of the brightest new areas of advancement in modern jazz in the 1990’s.
Michael McCall, Nashville Scene, January 5, 1995


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