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Driff Records 2001, 2020

Jorrit Dijkstra, alto sax
Jeb Bishop, trombone
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
Nate McBride, bass
Luther Gray, drums


1 Hyphen 6:34
2 Cutout 10:46
3 Chainsaw Pedicure/Tenet 12:13
4 Shadow/Bird Call/Chickadee 15:18
5 Sand Pile 10:11
6 Neumes/Jowls 13:36

Total time 68:38





Cutout is a Boston-based quintet whose members have deep and decades-long collaborative roots in various groups. Original compositions are interspersed with improvisations, and use “instant-arranging” techniques inspired by free-jazz forms from North America and Europe. Often two or three pieces segue into each other forming a longer “suite” with connecting improvised segments. In this recording from January 2019, all members contribute compositions.





Cutout is a quintet drawn from the Driff Records crowd, mainstays of Cambridge’s Lilypad performance space (the label is run by the saxophonist and pianist on this disc, Jorrit Dijkstra and Pandelis Karayorgis). “Free jazz” here means writing and “instant arranging,” tantalizing transparent delicacy, as well as hearty brawn, and, yes, swing.
Jon Garelick, Boston Globe, December 2020 (link)


Boston’s Driff Records doesn’t put out a lot of records, but its batting average is high. The label’s two 2020 releases, Cutout and CliffPools keep their hit streak alive while reminding us that it’s important to look beyond New York and Chicago for high-level, left-leaning jazz tinged with the avant-garde.

Cutout (Jorrit Dijkstra, soprano and alto; Jeb Bishop, trombone; Pandelis Karayorgis, piano; Nate McBride, bass; Luther Gray, drums) is a versatile, multidimensional group that is as at home in a loose straight-ahead swing environment as it is in avant-garde abstractness. Their music burns – not with the unbridled passion of youth, but with an assuredness and maturity that can only come from decades of honing one’s craft alongside peers who share the same values. It’s obvious that one of the quintet’s most cherished values is communication. One gets the sense that more than other bands, the members are all on equal footing rather than being boxed into certain roles and have the freedom to interject at any time when he has something important to say. Some of this comes from the charts, which assign the lead voice throughout the group. Solos rarely feature a single soloist blowing for too long on his own, as other members of the group often join in to offer commentary.

Cutout operates mostly in the piano to mezzo-forte range, so when it opens the throttle, as on the opening to “Shadow,” it is done to great effect and maximizes the contrast in dynamics. In fact, contrast might be one of the group’s defining characteristics. On the opening cut, “Hyphen,” Bishop’s spirited solo over Gray’s relaxed medium swing is in stark opposition to Dijkstra’s more subdued solo, which he plays without any accompaniment until Karayorgis jumps in and the pair begin to move together. Instances like this in which textures or tempos or moods change give the music an episodic feel.

Two-thirds of the album consists of tracks that feature multiple compositions, in effect creating a collection of mini-suites. The first is “Chainsaw Pedicure/Tenet,” which opens with a repeated piano figure punctuated by a series of single, horn hoots, which Dijkstra and Bishop play long enough to where it almost becomes comical. Just when it seemed the pair would go on indefinitely, they stop and transition into a rat-ta rat-ta rat-ta rat-ta line before quickly unravelling. They sound like a circus band that forgot to take its medication. After hypomanic solos from Bishop and Dijkstra on soprano, Karayorgis plays a solo transition into “Tenet,” which by contrast to “Chainsaw” features long held notes, softer dynamics, and more space. Even Dijkstra’s growling alto near the end is relatively restrained. The juxtaposition of “Chainsaw Pedicure’s” zaniness with “Tenet’s” carefully placed notes really works.

Cutout uses a similar strategy of combining contrasting and complimentary compositions on the two other mini-suites “Shadow/Bird Call/Chickadee” and the closing track “Neumes/Jowls.” The sprightly “Shadow” opens in an energetic fanfare and it’s one of the few instances where the band settles into a standard soloist plus rhythm section format. “Bird Call” sounds just like the title, with squawks and chirps, while “Chickadee” is as playful as when the little birds flit about on a bird feeder. “Neumes” is quiet and atmospheric and shifts between duos, trios, and quartets. “Jowls” is a medium swinger marked by the horns playing a phrase where the note values get shorter and shorter before snapping back like a rubber band. “Jowls/Neumes” captures the band’s range: from swing to free time, playful to deadly serious, loud to soft, wild to delicate. Their ability to play so much music without having to rely on flashy pyrotechnics to convince us of their chops speaks to their mastery and confidence in each other. The album’s only possible negative is that it might be one song too long, as several of the same compositional gestures and devices begin to reappear. But that’s a minor quibble about a really fine album that I find more to enjoy and appreciate with each listen.

Chris Robinson, Point Of Departure, June 2020 (link)

As much as this five-man unit based in Boston is a co-op band that performs music from all of its members, pianist, Pandelis Karayorgis remains its main lynchpin. Four of the ten tunes on this 68-minute side are credited to him, two of these as standalone numbers ("Hyphen" and "Sand Pile"), a third ("Neumes") paired with "Jowls" by drummer Luther Gray and a fourth ("Shadow") combined with pieces by trombonist Jeb Bishop (the squawk and squeeking "Bird Call") and bassist Curt Newton (a jaunty "Chickadee"). Last but not least, Dutch emigree altoist Jorrit Dijkstra chips in with the whimsically titled "Chainsaw Pedicure" and some sterling solos, most notably on Shadow (its spiraling theme bearing more than a passing resemblance to Tristano’s "Lennie Bird").
On the face of it, this lineup has all the earmarking of a typical bop outfit, but its musical fare reaches beyond the trappings of that genre. Not that it turns its back on it completely — the saxman’s solos are as good as it gets in the swing department — but the band is not shy to take some sharp turns along the way, at times sounding rarified and abstract, elsewhere mixing things up in a more brazen way. The music has a definite edge to it, more rough and tumble than sleek, as is the case of so many current jazz recordings subsumed under the label ‘contemporary’. Proof of this is the album’s second and title track, which the band has seemingly adopted as its name: the inside panel of the cardboard sleeve reproduces a page from the score, credited to the bassist, its sketch-like nature providing a loose framework of cues rather than a fixed arrangement.

All in all, this album does not indulge itself in lofty experimentation at the expense of the tradition, but weaves both of these together in effective ways.

Marc Chénard, The Squid’s Ear, June 2020 (link)

The name Cutout implies removal, but that won’t get you very far in understanding this Boston-based jazz quintet’s music. Quite the contrary, Cutout’s performance dynamic involves judicious addition by a group of musicians who have made a long-term commitment to playing together. Alto and soprano saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra and pianist Pandelis Karayorgis have been business and creative partners for years. They are the co-operators of Driff Records, all of whose releases feature one or both musicians, and they have shared several ensembles, including the large band Bathysphere, the Steve Lacy-themed Whammies, and Cutout. Trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Nate McBride, and Luther Gray often show up in these groups, and their smooth execution of sharp corners and sudden turnarounds reflects their shared understanding. What distinguishes Cutout from their other bands is the way they bring material by all five members into the set. Some of this album’s six tracks are single compositions, but others are sequential suites joined by improvisations. There’s plenty of dynamite soloing at work here, but the most intriguing turns come when one of the players elegantly links a couple of his bandmates’ compositions.

Bill Meyer, Dusted, Dust Volume 6, Number 8 Link

(From a double review of Cutout and Simon Nabatov's Plain (Clean Feed)

Two quintets featuring European-born pianists animate these sessions. Except for the degrees of ebullience brought to these all-original sessions by two quintets of mostly American associates each disc is equally noteworthy.

Boston-based, the Cutout group includes bassist Nate McBride, trombonist Jeb Bishop and drummer Luther Gray, who collectively and singly have played with everyone from Taylor Ho Bynum to Ken Vandermark. Pianist Pandelis Karayorgis was born in Greece and saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra in Holland. However both have taught at the post-secondary level and played in Massachusetts for decades, making them un-hyphenated American for everyone but Donald Trump. Born in Russia, pianist Simon Nabatov spent a few years in New York after emigrating, but has now firmly ensconced in Köln. Visiting the US last year he organized this quintet featuring a cross section of experienced improvisers. Saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed, drummer Tom Rainey, trumpeter Herb Robertson and bassist John Hébert have worked with many sound explorers including Tim Berne, Ingrid Laubrock and Gerry Hemingway and a couple have been featured on earlier Nabatov discs.

Every musician contributes at least one composition to the six medleys that make up Cutout. Considering the exuberance that suffuses the disc, it’s clear that everyone was happy to play. For the same reason it’s difficult to choose among the tracks since each operates on the same high level. The suite consisting of the pianist’s “Shadow”, the trombonist’s “Bird Call” and the bassist’s “Chickadee” for instance is a well-orchestrated polyphonic romp. Starting with the hard touch of, and additional accents from, Karayorgis, rolling glissandi usher in Bishop’s tongue stretching variations and ruffs from Gray. Directed piano comping backs Dijkstra’s alto saxophone slurs that blend with trombone tones into a forward-moving narrative. Eventually drum thumps, brass slides and keyboard undulations reach a folksy expansion arching around McBride’s woody string slaps. Meanwhile McBride’s title track is Bluesy, blowsy and bottom-based with echoing bass stops letting the pianist vamp in and out of the theme. Karayorgis’ pacing turns bumpy in order to properly complement Bishop’s plunger work and Dijkstra’s bites and bent notes, with the multiphonic intensity, are eventually put aside for dynamic and speedy glissandi and thickened low-pitched clips from both double bass and piano.

Overall the quintet can project sounds that could be played at a house party as well a recital hall, with jerky melodies directed by Bishop’s gutbucket smears highlighted as much as tender expositions depend on Karayorgis’ chromatic cross tones. The most representative track unites Dijkstra’s “Chainsaw Pedicure” and Bishop’s “Tenet”. After intense piano repetitions replicate motor-driven sways, antithetical movement comes from Bishop’s tailgate slurs and Dijkstra’s gentle soprano saxophone flutters that are almost violin-like. Following a piano vamp to a climatic outburst, the section concludes in-and-out of time with understated honks and slurs.


... these compositions are performed with a maximum of élan ... .

Ken Waxman, Jazz Word, October 2020 Link

Ceci est un fameux portrait de famille. Le saxophoniste Jorrit Dijkstra, habitué de l’alto, y saisit aussi le soprano, mais c’est surtout d’une famille de musiciens qu’il s’agit. Ils sont de Boston pour la plupart, même si le tromboniste Jeb Bishop est de Chicago. C’est lui qui ouvre les festivités dans un remarquable « Hyphen » où il peut croiser le fer avec la main gauche dévastatrice de Pandelis Karayorgis au piano, mais c’est Dijkstra qui s’offre une première séquence soliste, franche et forte, avec un clavier moins martelant mais tout autant rythmicien. Un duo se forme, c’est celui des têtes pensantes de Driff Records, et il est d’une grande densité. L’occasion pour les autres membres du quintet de leur faire écho : après tout chacun est à égalité ici, et ce n’est pas le très créatif batteur Luther Gray qui dira le contraire. « Neumes/Jowls », qu’il a écrit avec Karayorgis, est un morceau où le collectif, à son sens, avec des contrepoints aventureux de Bishop qu’il reprend à son compte.

CutOut est un album musculeux mais très complice. « Chainsaw Pedicure/Tenet » en est indéniablement l’exemple le plus criant, avec le piano et la batterie au centre d’une algarade entre un saxophone tempéré et un trombone en feu. La contrebasse de Nate McBride pourrait paraître en retrait, elle est au contraire très bâtisseuse et a lié son chemin à celui de la batterie. Avec un tel attirail rythmique, les soufflants peuvent se sentir en toute liberté, mais ne cherchent cependant pas à prendre le dessus. Ils en sont bien inspirés : dans « Sand Pile », une composition de Karayorgis, le pianiste laisse le tromboniste éclater de toute sa rage avant de céder la place à McBride, au jeu tranchant et d’une grande justesse, qui aime calme et concorde. Karayorgis revient avec le thème, comme une offrande, et l’orchestre suit avec une précision d’orfèvre, dominé par le canevas de pizzicati. Il en résulte un travail presque chambriste, franchement sophistiqué et marqué par la musique écrite occidentale contemporaine.

CutOut est à cheval. Sur la rigueur rythmique d’abord, c’est un fait. McBride et Gray ouvrent « Cut Out » avec une rectitude rare, vite rejoints par Karayorgis. C’est lui qui dessine la voie dans laquelle va se précipiter Dijkstra. Une ligne anguleuse et nerveuse, à défaut d’être tortueuse. Pleine de réflexes et d’équilibre. Avec aussi un certain sens de la puissance qui place l’alto du Batave dans la posture de l’acrobate. Mais l’entre-deux, l’à-cheval, se traduit de manière plus bâtisseuse, notamment lorsque la basse tient une ligne dont le piano est seul maître. Voici le quintet, il s’impose, avec l’impétuosité de l’instant, mais aussi avec la mécanique rutilante des basses qui inclut un piano constructeur mais instable. Loin de perturber le flux multiple proposé par chacun des artistes compositeurs, il le met en perspective. Davantage que tout autre, ce disque illustre ce que défend Driff Records : une musique qui tient à distance les improvisations tout en les accueillant avec entrain et une célébration d’un jazz libre et sans limite. CutOut est comme un manifeste. Il ne se conçoit néanmoins pas comme tel et se définit libre. C’est ainsi qu’on l’aime.

Franpi Barriaux, Citizenjazz.com, Publié le 13 septembre 2020, link

Sinds hij in 2002 naar Amerika vertrok, is saxofo- nist Jorrit Dijkstra een van de drijvende krachten van de scene in Boston geworden. Samen met pia- nist Pandelis Karayorgis runt hij het label Driff Re- cords dat met tussenpozen cd’s uitbrengt van hun projecten. Cut Out is een kwintet dat nu sinds een jaar of drie regelmatig optreedt en voor een groot deel overlapt met The Whammies, de groep die zich bezighoudt met composities van Steve Lacy. In de muziek van Cut Out (dat stukken van alle bandle- den speelt) horen we een vergelijkbare muzikale benadering als in het werk van de grote sopraan- saxofonist. Daarin wordt met een Europees oog naar de Amerikaanse jazztraditie gekeken en an- dersom. Zo horen we in de composities (en het spel) van Karayorgis sporen van Monk, Nichols en Andrew Hill, maar op een manier die bij Misha Mengelberg had gepast. ‘Chainsaw pedicure’ (fijne titel, overigens) van Dijkstra doet in zijn vervreem- dende obstinaatheid denken aan het werk van Guus Janssen (met wie de saxofonist nog steeds werkt in de groep Soundlee). Zijn lucide saxofoonspel com- bineert perfect met de vlezige trombone van Jeb Bishop, maar hij kan ook stevig uitpakken, zoals de verzengende solo in ‘Sand pile’ aantoont. Met de warme bas van McBride en het soepele swingwerk van Gray heeft Cut Out een heerlijk team dat aardsheid en bevlogenheid in gelijke doses tot een sublieme cocktail verwerkt.
Herman te Loo, JazzFlits, Nr. 336, April 2020

Dit kwintet speelt tien stukken die door elk van de bandleden zijn aangedragen. Pianist Karayorgis die samen met saxo- fonist Dijkstra het label Driff Records uit Boston runt, heeft met vier composities het grootste aandeel. De pianist heeft de aange- name gewoonte om voor de hand liggende noten weg te laten en die te suggereren met accenten op de daarvan afgeleide klan- ken. Daarmee heeft hij een heel efficiënte manier van spelen, direct naar de syncopen en improvisaties waar het om gaat. Jorrit Dijkstra is een muzikant die niet van dralen houdt en meteen ter zake komt. De meest opvallende muzikant hier is trombo- nist Jeb Bishop die we vooral uit Chicago kennen. Hij is momenteel een van de inte- ressantste muzikanten op dat instrument, met stilistische breedte en emotionele diepgang. Spannende muziek die zo uit de jazztraditie lijkt voort te komen.
Ken Vos, Jazzism #3-4 Zomer 2020


Sei tracce per dieci temi complessivi, quattro di Pandelis Karayorgis, greco, due di Nate McBride, americano di Chicago, e Jeb Bishop, lui di Raleigh, North Carolina, e uno a testa di Jorrit Dijkstra, olandese, e Luther Gray, di New Orleans, compongono questo bell'album, ricco, solido, a tratti persino rutilante, in cui i due fiati si danno battaglia indomiti e attorno a loro macinano piano, basso e batteria.

Non si pensi con questo che di trovarsi di fronte a un'incisione meramente "ginnica," di quelle che ingolfano fin troppo diffusamente l'attuale discografia jazzistica, perché qui c'è musica ottimamente costruita, oltre che suonata, però, appunto, con un corporalità, una pienezza, indiscutibili.

Magari non si va troppo per il sottile, ma non c'è mai neppure occasione o tempo per annoiarsi, benché i momenti di riflessione e ripiegamento non manchino (per esempio in Tenet, di Bishop, che chiude la terza traccia del disco, ma anche altrove), oasi quasi agognate entro un itinerario collettivo (come la firma stessa dell'album, rigorosamente "democratica") che privilegia il canto aperto, l'interscambio fitto, la rigogliosità. Che alla fine non generano peraltro saturazione, quanto piuttosto sano appagamento. Senza troppi problemi ma con la certezza di esser stati spettatori di una performance a cinque voci di sicuro spessore, defaticante (per noi, comodamente seduti in poltrona) e liberatoria.

Alberto Bazzurro, All About Jazz, August 26, 2020, link

Podobno grali ze sobą właśnie jako Cutout już od 2017 roku. Kwintet wymienionych w tytule recenzji muzyków długo zatem przymierzał się do swojego debiutanckiego albumu. Jednak nie dlatego, że tak intensywnie pracował nad materiałem. Artystom odpowiedzialnym za zawartość “Cutout”, w przerwie na inne projekty, wystarczył zaledwie jeden styczniowy dzień w 2019 roku na to, by zarejestrować muzykę, której teraz można z dużą przyjemnością posłuchać. Za jej wydanie odpowiedzialna jest mała, niezależna wytwórnia z Bostonu. Prowadzą ją saksofonista Jorrit Diijkstra i pianista Pandelis Karayorgis. Obaj osiedli w Stanach i zapraszają do współpracy kolejnych artystów.

Na zawartość “Cutout” składają się bardzo żywiołowe i zróżnicowane improwizacje, które powstały na bazie różnych technik aranżacyjnych. To doskonale słychać i trudno się tymi wszystkimi pomysłami na raz nasycić. Niełatwo jest też je ogarnąć nawet przy kolejnych odsłuchach. Być może po prostu nie warto układać sobie tej muzyki w głowie. Z pewnością jest intrygująca i nietuzinkowa. Na tyle nieoczywista, że często zmierza w zaskakujących kierunkach i jest wypadkową wpływów europejskiego i amerykańskiego jazzu.

Ogromne wrażenie robią tu na mnie wszyscy muzycy. Chciałbym jednak szczególnie wyróżnić puzonistę Jeba Bishopa, którego słuchacze jazzu znają m.in. ze współpracy z Alexandrem von Schlippenbachem, Kenem Vandermarkiem czy Robem Mazurkiem. Mniej znany jest grecki pianista Pandelis Karayorgis, który grał np. z saksofonistą Guilermo Gregorio. Warto jednak odnotować, że na ten rok zapowiadana jest jego płyta z basistą Damonem Smithem i perkusistą Erikiem Rosenthalem. A zostanie wydana przez Fundację Słuchaj! Czekam zatem na kolejne projekty. I wracam do słuchania “Cutout”, bo za szybko się kończy.

Piotr Wojdat, Jazzarium.pl, 2020 (link)


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