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>Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet



Photo by Peter Gannushkin/DowntownMusic.net



Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet
Driff Records 1304, 2013

Dave Rempis alto, tenor and baritone sax
Keefe Jackson, tenor sax, bass and contrabass clarinets
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
Nate McBride, bass
Frank Rosaly, drums

available on Bandcamp

PK Quintet page



1. Undertow 6:04
2. Nudge 6:29
3. Swarm 9:33
4. Circuitous 5:28
5. Vortex 8:51
6. Evenfall 4:34
7. Blue Line 9:15
8. Here In July 5:17
9. Souvenir 5:25

All compositions by Pandelis Karayorgis, ASCAP

Total time 67:57


Liner Notes:
The title Circuitous goes to the heart of Pandelis Karayorgis’s creative process, the cycling back, the moving forward, the presence of patterns and the embrace of their opposite, the sense of the road less taken. You feel the pressure of origins, but also a sudden spinning outward, a looping toward new meanings. Karayorgis is a radical conservative, radical in the sense that he has looked with a special intensity at the roots of the music that he plays, conservative in that he maintains a relationship to what is most vital in the tradition. His music seems to proceed from a fundamental question, “How does one make meaningful work?”

Listening to Karayorgis’s music, we hear a fundamental rethinking of modern jazz—bop--and its original impact. We’re conditioned to listen to a conventional jazz performance through its mechanics, as a theme and set of variations, the theme often there only as something to be varied, the emphasis clearly on the soloist, that function enshrined in the chain that regularly concludes with a drum solo, the ultimate erasure of harmonic and melodic. But the great jazz composers and many of the great jazz bands clearly approached a work as something else, a gestalt, a work of interlocking parts, some fixed, some variable, some radically extensible, all liable to form new relationships and meanings. The work’s total form had primacy over individual solos.

Listen to Thelonious Monk’s early recordings and they were already great before he had great soloists and before the musicians had time to stretch out. Working with the limited palette of a small group and theme-and-variation patterns, Monk’s music represented—even created—complex psychological states which have resonated ever since. The same is true of others in Monk’s circle—Bud Powell, Elmo Hope, Herbie Nichols—and some outside, like Lennie Tristano and Hassan ibn Ali.

Pandelis Karayorgis develops the same thing here: in a brilliant revisioning of the modern jazz tradition, he constructs complex fields in which a listener is engaged in the play of puzzle, form and dialogue, and Karayorgis does it with an intensity and urgency that insist this is meaningful—even crucial--activity.

Recently Karayorgis has been travelling to Chicago once or twice a year. His present quintet concept had its origins there in 2007: “That's when I first played with Keefe Jackson. Nate McBride was in that group too, but he and I go back to the early ’90s in Boston. After that initial Chicago concert, I developed more material and recorded it with System of 5, a Boston-based group. But I still wanted to return to the Chicago musicians to explore a different path for the music. Dave Rempis and I had played in numerous other groups and I had played with Frank Rosaly too. So I was well acquainted with everyone's playing and knew the kind of sensibility they could bring to the music and in what ways it could be different. I wanted to write material that would be a bit less arranged and rely more on the spontaneous input provided by this particular group of musicians.”

For his part, Rempis emphasizes what Karayorgis brings to Chicago: “The band is made up of some of my favorite musicians, and having Pandelis come to Chicago to graft his concepts onto a group of musicians who work together in many different contexts is an incredible treat. It undoubtedly forces each of us to rethink certain modes of interaction that we take for granted, and to explore some new possibilities.”

For Karayorgis, the input of different band members was crucial: “In preparation for this project Nate suggested Tony Williams' Spring as a reference. That's where I got the idea for using two tenors as the main horns. One of the things I love about Spring is the seemingly minimal composed material that serves as a springboard or a spark that leads to amazing group playing. Since I tend to write thoroughly arranged sections, textures, themes and backgrounds I worked consciously to scale back and allow the group more leeway. Two of these pieces are like that: ‘Undertow’ and ‘Souvenir.’ Many of the other pieces are arranged with these principles in mind too despite their forms which are more specific.

“This was a dream band for me and from the outset I asked everyone for input and suggestions on the arrangements knowing that it is in the best interest of the music that everyone feels comfortable with the direction. I also tried to strike a good balance between asking people to follow a general plan and boxing them into a set of rigid directions. Dave Rempis did a great job directing some of the cued sections, and everyone else also had valuable suggestions to contribute. So in the end, I felt that the band as a whole had a big impact on the way my compositions and arrangements came alive.”

Rempis emphasizes both the strength and the freedom of those compositions: “I think Pandelis is one of the most interesting composers of this era. There’s a very direct lineage to Monk in his music, since he's able to write melodies that are so clear and true. They’re attached to a harmonic sensibility that's extremely specific, yet whose main purpose is to reinforce the melody on every level. He's also very interested in compositions with medium or medium to slow tempos, which at this time is quite uncommon. It opens up a world of rhythmic possibilities during improvisations as the musicians choose to live in that tempo, throw in some double times phrases, or simply stretch in a freer way across a structure that permits that type of exploration.”

One of the things that make this music so compelling is Karayorgis’s acute sense of timbre and the way he’s attuned to the individual personalities of the musicians. It may be a quintet, but it’s orchestrated: “As an arranger, I try to feature a variety of sub-groups of musicians playing solos, duets or trios, especially in the less common instrumental groupings. I try to combine that with a variety of textures, grooves and styles, but I love it when those things happen spontaneously.”

For Rempis, “This is one of the most exciting projects I've been a part of in the last several years, and I'm incredibly glad to have the opportunity to deal with music that's so well thought out, and specific. Pandelis' vision is extremely clear on every composition, and it's really a pleasure to work with an improviser, bandleader, and composer who can integrate these roles, and communicate his intentions so clearly to the band. This isn't done by incessant rehearsal or verbal instructions, but because the compositions themselves are so straightforward and, frankly, strong. They speak for themselves.”

Everything here testifies to the validity of Karayorgis’s mixed methodology, from the expressive power of individual moments—the kind of bristling hyper-bop practiced by Rempis at one moment to the strange timbral explorations of Jackson at another, from the locked-in drive of McBride and Rosaly to Karayorgis’s cycling through the expanding language of jazz’s harmonic history—to the achievement of whole pieces, their disparate components refracting and shifting their significance. Karayorgis and the quintet succeed brilliantly here in creating music that both reverberates with the tradition and creates its own extraordinary musical states—textures, visions and collisions that are unique, that could not be produced by any other group or any singular method.

Stuart Broomer
Toronto, July 2012

Order of sax/clarinet solos:

Undertow: Rempis (tenor sax), Jackson (tenor sax)
Nudge: Rempis (alto sax), Jackson (tenor sax)
Swarm: Jackson (tenor sax), Rempis (tenor sax)
Circuitous: Jackson (bass clarinet), Rempis (tenor sax)
Vortex: Collective solo: Rempis (baritone sax) and Jackson (Contrabass Clarinet)
Evenfall: Jackson (tenor sax)
Blue Line: Rempis (tenor sax), Jackson (tenor sax)
Here in July: Rempis (baritone sax)
Souvenir: Rempis (tenor sax), Jackson (tenor sax)


Top-ten lists 2013
Circuitous was on Peter Margasak’s top-ten list for the 2013 NPR Jazz Critics Poll (link) and was also included in two top-ten lists on “The Free Jazz Collective Top-10 albums of 2013.” (link)

A bounty of brilliance from Boston pianist Pandelis Karayorgis

Habitués of this space probably know of my esteem for Boston pianist and composer Pandelis Karayorgis, a musician whose rigorous explorations of the less frequented corners of jazz history have consistently yielded deeply original and compelling new sounds. He's managed to revisit the work of pianists like Lennie Tristano, Herbie Nichols, Elmo Hope, Hassan, and early Cecil Taylor and bring back consistently fresh ideas in all sorts of contexts. Earlier this year he and Boston-based reedist Jorrit Dijkstra launched Driff Records—the label just added four new titles to its catalog, and they have me thinking that this might be the most exciting new jazz label in 2013.

Circuitous is a recording that highlights the pianist's strong connection to Chicago—which was forged back in the 90s when reedist Guillermo Gregorio first worked with him, and has been strengthened by his sporadic projects with Ken Vandermark; it's a marvelous quintet with reedists Dave Rempis and Keefe Jackson (who leads a trio tonight for a free show at Constellation), bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Frank Rosaly. All of those musicians are Chicagoans (although McBride has recently returned to Boston). Karayorgis has discussed the fact that he used the classic Tony Williams album Spring as a model for the instrumentation of this group, but the sound is all its own, with punchy, angular melodies, a wide dynamic range (from the softest rustling to the loudest, juddering blasts), and ingenious arrangements that color in the oblique melodies and provide endless suspense. In fact, as strong as the solos are throughout the record, I almost enjoy the composed sections most, like the brilliantly onomatopoeic buzzing that opens "Swarm," which you can hear below. This band has performed on a handful occasions in Chicago, including a strong gig at last year's Umbrella Music Festival, but I sure hope this release brings another one, stat.

I've had the music from Circuitous for a long while, but since I just got the package from Driff this week I've only heard the excellent new trio outing by Karayorgis a couple of times—still, that's enough to know how good it is. On Cocoon he's supported by bassist Jef Charland and drummer Luther Grey, both of whom contribute a few compositions, although the lion's share are from the leader. It's a much more introspective and quiet affair than Circuitous, but it's equally rewarding and relentlessly swinging. The rhythm section is a lean, agile machine, functioning as the sturdy armature for the pianist's wonderfully jagged, sometimes glassy improvisations. Karayorgis is fond of his instrument's left end, punctuating phrases with brusque bass stabs, but his mastery of harmony—finding unexpected, piquant chords in every conceivable situation—is the thing. I can't say too much more since there's plenty to absorb, but the tunes are sticking to my brain and I'm looking forward to all the revelations contained within. Below you can check out one of the leader's characteristically catchy and knotty tunes, "You Took My Coffee and Left." (…)
Peter Margasak, June 2013 (link)

Two albums featuring the formidable and subtle playing and conceptual brainwork of Greek-born, Boston-based pianist Pandelis Karayorgis illustrate the renewable power and adaptability of personal stylistic imprints in the contemporary, post-free-jazz universe. In this music, impulse meets, undermines and converses with structure—often in compact, fragmented forms, or suggested modalities and moods. An engaging and empathetic trio set from 2011, Window And Doorway ((****)) divides itself into 11 mostly compacted tracks in which three-way collective exploration glows and scampers, while the quintet album Circuitous (****) ups the ante of textures and structural schemes.

By contextual standards, the trio date—in collaboration with sentient musical beings Steve Swell, trombone, and clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio—reflexively conjures up the idea of a “chamber-esque” setting. Conversely, the Chicago-based quintet, featuring reedists Dave Rempis and Keefe Jackson, along with the piano-bass-drums rhythm section of Karayorgis, Nate McBride and Frank Rosaly, steers perceptions toward comparisons to classic jazz quintet paradigm, different in form and function though it may be.

Both groupings are linked to an essential musical philosophy espoused by the pianist, ambling on the boundaries between the preconceived and the spontaneous. These recordings exemplify an aesthetic at once solid in its concept and open to evolution and expansion. (4-stars for both CDs)
]osef Woodard, Downbeat, February 2014

Earlier this year, following in the footsteps of many of his contemporaries, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis co-founded the Boston-based label Driff Records with multi-instrumentalist Jorrit Dijkstra, in an effort to independently document his own work. Two of the imprint’s most recent releases feature Karayorgis leading fairly conventional groups. (…)

Karayorgis shares a similar affinity with the Windy City rhythm section of bassist Nate McBride and drummer Frank Rosaly on Circuitous, which also features the frontline of two bold Chi-town multi-reedists: Dave Rempis and Keefe Jackson. No stranger to the Chicago scene, Karayorgis spent ample time there in the 1990s, working with, among others, Ken Vandermark and Guillermo Gregorio (the pianist and clarinetist collaborate with trombonist Steve Swell on another new Driff Records release,Window and Doorway). In reference to the ensemble’s dual saxophone configuration, Karayorgis explains in the liner notes that Anthony Williams’ seminal album Spring (Blue Note, 1966) inspired the instrumentation for this project – yet it reaches far beyond the structural advancements of that iconic session, both in terms of dynamics and intensity.

Throughout the date, the quintet crafts beguiling narratives from Karayorgis’ labyrinthine compositions, with the five band members often arranged into unusual instrumental sub-groupings that eschew standardized conventions. Together McBride and Rosaly deconstruct in-the-pocket grooves with impulsive fervor, spurring the leader into a frenzy of rhapsodic crescendos as the impeccably matched duo of Rempis and Jackson channel blues-based motifs and taut intervallic themes into trenchant testimonials.

“Vortex” is a telling example of the group’s dynamic prowess. Conceived around a tortuous line, the thorny number spotlights Karayorgis’ rambunctious opening gambit and a rancorous duet between Rempis’ baritone saxophone and Jackson’s contrabass clarinet that traverses a spectrum of tonal extremes. The punchy opener “Undertow” is equally ardent, spotlighting a rollicking series of freewheeling interludes from each musician, whereas the following “Nudge” regales with bluesy expressionism, its indigo hues emphasized by a succession of ruminative detours. Encompassing a variety of moods, the aptly titled “Swarm” evokes its namesake, as does the meandering title track, which showcases the quintet’s introspective tendencies.

Karayorgis’ Chicago quintet offers an intriguing alternative to his Boston-based ensemble, System Of 5, which features the rhythm section of Charland and Gray joined by saxophonist Matt Langley and trombonist Jeff Galindo. Similar, but distinct from its East Coast counterpart, the lineup documented onCircuitous explores territory consistent with Karayorgis’ oeuvre, which demonstrates a masterful reinvention of post-bop vernacular, expertly balancing the accessibility of the mainstream with the vitalizing freedom of the avant-garde.
Troy Collins, Point Of Departure Issue 44 - September 2013 (link)

In the album liners, Boston-based jazz pianist Pandelis Karayorgis cites this unit as a dream band, featuring prominent Chicagoans, saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Frank Rosaly. Never one to run short on creative sparks, the pianist is a sly arranger, and these works are asymmetrically synched within organization and improvisation. Moreover, several of these pieces are influenced by Thelonious Monk, primarily from an unconventional rhythmic standpoint amid odd-metered expressionism.
Vivid imagery is rampant on "Swarm," where the frontline sax section's flurries mimic a swarm of bees buzzing around in low-to-upper registers. However, Karayorgis deconstructs the panorama into a miniscule subplot via patchy clusters as he realigns the band and raises the pitch due to his bristling chord voicings, only to descend back into a quiet interlude where McBride stirs the pot. The quintet gravitates back to higher elevations, incited by warm sax choruses, leading to rough-hewn lines devised with vocal-like aspects, closing it out with a frenzied opus and whirling dervish-type intensity. It's a multi-part aural treat containing cavernous valleys and towering peaks. and is one of many testaments to Karayorgis' boundless imaginative powers, evidenced throughout the program.
Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz, August 2013 (Track review: “Swarm”) (link)

Pandelis Karayorgis Roundup
Boston based pianist and composer Pandelis Karayorgis' recent set of recordings on his label Driff Records feature a diverse set of players ranging from his Native Boston, to the Chicago free jazz scene, and all the way to the Netherlands. The music is as varied as the configurations, ranging from compositions for a quintet, to interpretations of Steve Lacy, to improvised trio pieces. Throughout, the focus is not Karayorgis' piano, rather it's the talent and collaboration of all the instruments into his musical vision.

Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet - Circuitous (Driff, 2013) ****½
Starting with what has proven to be my favorite recording (perhaps), Circuitous, it's easy to feel Karayorgis' influences within his fresh and exciting music. Drawing on the still contemporary style of Thelonious Monk and rich legacy of Steve Lacy, Karayorgis' composition serve as complex and knotty frameworks for some sophisticated and accessible improvisation.

In addition to Karayorgis' piano, the quintet is Dave Rempis on sax, Keefe Jackson on sax, bass and contrabass clarinet, Nate McBride on bass and Frank Rosaly on drums. The players all have their own space to build upon the composer's vision. Sticking pretty much with traditional instrumental roles, the music is free, inventive, highly melodic and unpredictable.

The opening 'Undertow' features an unison melody that breaks into an angular piano solo, and just digs in deeper and deeper as the song progresses.  Other tracks, like 'Swarm' seems to draw upon snippets of Monk themes, and at moments, I even picked up what I can best describe as a 'Mingus circa Changes One' compositional vibe. (...)

These four recent releases from Karaygoris' label are really excellent examples of the intersection of composition and free playing. The different combinations of instruments and approaches showcases the pianist's influences and exciting musical ideas. Great music, check it out at http://driffrecords.bandcamp.com/.
Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Collective, August 2013 (link)

Boston-based Pandelis Karayorgis is a post-Monk avant pianist with poise, great ideas, real torque and feeling conjoined with a lively musical mind. And he writes compositions that reflect his angular way and stay with you long after you've heard them. For the recording Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet Circuitous (Driff 1304) he gathers together a significant group of Chicago jazzmen in a studio date recorded there. These are musicians often associated together (see previous reviews on this site) and their conjunction with Pandelis is most fortuitous, fortunate, fabulous, productive.

The musicians involved are Dave Rempis, tenor, alto and baritone, Keefe Jackson, tenor sax, bass and contrabass clarinet, Nate McBride, contrabass and Frank Rosaly, drums, cutting edge musicians all.

The set involves all Karayorgis compositions. They set the tone for the improvisations and inspire all to some of their best work--the powerful Rempis, puckish, ascerbic Jackson, angular Karayorgis, deep exploratory McBride and the wise ranging swing and free intelligence of Rosaly. This is symbiosis at its best: the Chicago artist clearly get a jolt from their association with Pandelis and vice versa.

A fine date, great example of Karayorgis today and a testament to the creative thrust of four exceptional Chicago improvisers. Grab this one.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review, September 2013 (link)

Driff Records is een nieuwe platenmaatschappij waar onder meer ook de Nederlandse saxofonist Jorrit Dijkstra onderdak heeft gevonden. Belangrijke man achter het label is pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, wiens eigen werk er in verschillende bezettingen verschijnt. Karayorgis zou je een evolutionair vernieuwer kunnen noemen. Iemand die een grondige analyse van muziek uit het verleden gebruikt om vooruit te komen. Het eerste en meteen ruigste nummer ‘Undertow’ klinkt in de eerste maten als een pandemonium, maar geleidelijk komen structuren en melodieën aan de oppervlakte. Een belangrijke bron van inspiratie is pianist Thelonious Monk wiens werk Karayorgis niet alleen goed heeft bestudeerd, maar ook begrepen. Het levert muziek op waarin textuur en kleur bepalend zijn, maar er bovendien op melodisch, harmonisch en ritmisch vlak onvoorstelbaar veel gebeurt. Het is ook muziek van de uitgestelde beloning, muziek waar de luisteraar in eerste instantie veel aandacht aan moet geven. ‘Circuitous’ is die moeite meer dan waard. Een plaat die je langzaam beter leert kennen zonder dat je hem helemaal zult doorzien.
Mischa Andriessen

Pianist Karayorgis (Athene 1962) heb ik vorig jaar nog genoemd in de bespreking van het uitstekende eerste album van The Whammies die Steve Lacy’s erfgoed op aangename wijze onder handen namen. Hier horen we de Bostoniaan met net nog jonge Chicagose improvisatoren: Dave Rempis (rieten), Keefe Jackson (rieten), Nate McBride (bas) en Frank Rosaly (drums). De composities van Karayorgis zijn bijzonder sterk door zijn vorm- en klankbewustzijn. De negen stukken zijn namelijk spannend door hun ambiguïteit. Hoewel de muziek zeer actueel klinkt, maakt het een soort opwinding los die ik had toen ik voor het eerst Charlie Mingus of Cecil Taylor hoorde; een consistent doortrekken van de jazztraditie naar een nieuwe kritische of betrokken muziektaal. De pianist weet de klankverworvenheden van Monk en Taylor op overtuigende wijze te verwerken in zijn spel zonder een volgeling te zijn. *****
Ken Vos, Jazzism (NL), September 2013, p.111

Un groupe complètement différent, bien que Karayorgis soit encore au piano (il joue aussi de l’orgue; cf. Betwixt). Deux saxos à l’avant: Dave Rempis et Keefe Jackson. À l’arrière, une excellente section rythmique: Nate McBride et Frank Rosaly – ce quintette frôle le statut all-star band. Toutes les compos sont du pianiste, et plusieurs ont de la gueule, les saxos fournissant la force de frappe. À certains moments, l’écriture et le jeu rappellent Satoko Fujii – j’ai rarement entendu Karayorgis plaquer des accords avec autant de force. Cela dit, il y a des moments pour respirer et, dans l’ensemble, ce disque offre un bel équilibre et plus de oomph que Cocoon.

A completely different band, except for the fact that Karayorgis is still at the piano (he also plays the organ, though not here. See Betwixt). A dual sax frontline: Dave Rempis and Keefe Jackson. In the back, an excellent rhythm section: Nate McBrise and Frank Rosaly – this quintet gets this close to all-star status. All compositions are the pianist’s, and several have bite, with the saxes providing the attitude. At times, the writing and the playing are reminiscent of Satoko Fujii – I have rarely heard Karayorgis hammer chords with such strength. That being said, the album also offers breathing room and is overwell well balanced. But it definitely has more oomph than Cocoon.
François Couture, Monsieur Délire, Journal d'écoute / Listening Diary 2013-07-29/30

Der seit 1985 in Boston lebende Athener Pandelis Karayorgis ist einer der interessantesten Pianisten und Komponisten des Post Free Jazz. Ein Bein in Europa, das andere fest im amerikanischen Jazz, nährt sich Karayorgis von einem breiten Spektrum zwischen Tristano, Monk, Bley und Cecil Taylor. Auf seinem mit dem US-­Holländer Jorrit Dijkstra neugegründeten Label DRIFF beeindruckt er gleich mit drei Produktionen. Langjährig ist bereits seine Zusammenarbeit mit den komponierenden Impro­visatoren Guillermo Gregorio und Steve Swell.

Im Quintet – das er als seine ”Traumband" be­ zeichnet – feiert Karayorgis seinen neuen Kontakt zur jüngeren Chicagoer Avantgarde. Seine Kompo­sitionen schöpfen aus dem Vokabular des Free Jazz. Der Bär geht los mit rauen, aber gezielten Diskussionen der Saxophonisten, die ihr breites Soundrepertoire selektiv nutzen und die Geräusche mit Witz und Ironie einsetzen. Kommentiert und unterstützt mit Karate-­artigen Akzenten des Rhyth­mustrios, lässt der Pianist sie mal frei loslegen, um sie dann wieder mit dissonant arrangierten Tonsätzen an die Leine zu nehmen. Zudem definiert er innerhalb der Stücke Zonen mit verschiedener Dichte und Intensität, wo es auch mal besinnlich und sparsam sein darf. Karayorgis' schräge The­ men klingen manchmal wie ausgelassene Jubelge­ sänge. ”Swarm" erweckt tatsächlich den Eindruck eines nervösen Insektenschwarms. Kollektive sprit­ zige Interaktionen dominieren, doch jeder kann sich auch solistisch entfalten. Post Free Jazz mit Pfiff.
Jürg Solothurnmann, Jazz'N'More Switzerland, Nov./Dez. Nr. 6/2013

Dos sopladores (Dave Rempis -saxos alto, tenor y barítono- yKeefe Jackson -saxo tenor, y clarinetes bajo y contrabajo), piano (Pandelis Karayorgis), contrabajo (Nate McBride) y batería (Frank Rosaly) integran la nueva formación de PandelisKarayorgis. Todos ellos son nombres bien conocidos de la escena de Chicago. En el caso del líder del grupo, de Rempis yMcBride son unos músicos que también han estado asociados aKen Vandermark.
Karayorgis presenta una obra con un gran trabajo a nivel de composición y arreglos. La mayoría de sus nueve temas aparecen compuestos por distintas partes, en las que si bien por un lado se muestra exigente con los pasajes obligados, por otra parte deja amplios espacios y gran libertad para los solos de sus compañeros. Su música se mueve por los terrenos del free-bop, mostrando por momentos de un modo más que evidente la influencia del gran Thelonious Monk. El disco va ganando enteros conforme avanza su escucha. En ello ayudan la magnífica presencia de sus compañeros, así como la variedad de tempos que presentan los distintos temas.
Pachi Tapiz, tomajzz, 2013 (link)

Boston pianist Pandelis Karayorgis has had a long relationship with Chicago musicians, going back to his late ‘90s-early ‘00s work with Ken Vandermark and Guillermo Gregorio. With right-hand man bassist Nate McBride, who has split time between Boston and Chicago, he has expanded on the inventions and dimensions of pianist-composers Herbie Nichols, Hasaan Ibn Ali, Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor, frequently in the trio format. Circuitous adds Rosaly and the twined reeds of Jackson and Rempis to the mix on a program of nine Karayorgis originals. The leader’s playing is full of elbows and gracefully weird turnarounds and offers challenging support for Rempis’ excoriations and Jackson’s wry, steely playing. Decades removed from what contemporary improvisation is ‘supposed’ to be, Circuitous is energetically far from anachronism.
Clifford Allen, The New York City Jazz record, November 2013

Chicago beheimatet die derzeit brodelndsten Jazz-Avantgarde Zirkel Amerikas. Mit vier jungen Heißspornen der Windy City hat er das Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet zusammengestellt und die CD circuitous eingespielt. Es geht hier alles andere als umständlich zu. Auf direktem Weg tauchen die Musiker in Karayorgis' nuancierte Kompositionen ein, die auf famose Weise Post-Bop-Texturen mit effizienter Sinnfälligkeit in Experimentalzonen von atonaler Schroffheit überführen. Und die hervorbrechenden grandiosen, teils ekstatischen Soli verleihen den komplexen, elastischen Kompositionen eine zusätzliche Spannkraft und Sogwirkung. Das Quintett pflegt zudem ein enorm konzentriertes, einfühlendes Zusammenspiel. Karayorgis ist ein beeindruckender Kreativquell.
Stephan Roiss, Jazz Links, January 2014





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