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 (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)
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
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
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
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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