| bio | press | recordings | projects | contact | photos | video |

>Pandelis Karayorgis Trio:
>Heart And Sack



Heart & Sack
Pandelis Karayorgis Trio
Leo Lab CD 048, 1998

Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
Nate McBride, bass
Randy Peterson, drums

Produced by Mat Maneri

Recorded April 1998

available on Bandcamp

PK Trio page

1. Lautir
(Ken McIntyre) 6:00
2. What Did I Just Say?
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 7 :04
3. Miss Ann
(Eric Dolphy) 2:45
4. How Daisies Jiggle
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 5:20
5. Straight Blues
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 5:59
6. Frustration
(Duke Ellington) 2:49
7. I Heard Things
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 6:12
8. Half Tilt
(Nate McBride) 5:31
9. Corpus Delicti
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 4:39
10. Heart And Sack
(Pandelis Karayorgis) 4:03



A key figure in Boston's under-40 generation of adventurous improvisers, pianist Karayorgis has released several albums displaying a novel renovation of concepts developed by Lennie Tristano and Thelonious Monk. Monk haunts Heart and Sack at times too, but this trio (Nate McBride on bass and drummer Randy Peterson) has its own identity, based upon tense, consistently shifting rhythmic accents, so that the music surges ahead and eases back, or swings with an off-kilter lilt. Karayorgis' approach to lesser known items, likes his dark, crunchy congested harmonies on Ken McIntyre's "Lautir" or the abstracted lyricism of Duke Ellington's "Frustration," illuminates the unexpected details of his original pieces-the chromatic path down quizzical alleys of "What Did I Just Say?" or the slow-motion, gradually accelerating melodic mystery of "I Heard Things." Be warned, this music doesn't reveal all its secrets on first hearing. ****
Art Lange, Pulse, March 1999

Terry Gross: Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says every jazz fan loves the rhythmic quality known as swing, which pushes the music forward even at slow tempos. Swing is created through small variations where musicians place their accents a little ahead or behind the beat. Kevin says the trouble is folks don't always agree on what swings and what doesn't.
Kevin Whitehead: The late Thelonious Monk ­ one musician who redefined what we recognize as swinging rhythm. When Monk came along in the 1940's, few jazz fans thought he swung. Nowadays, most every fan knows he does. Hearing how he took the tiny hesitations and surges of rhythm that create swing and magnified them, blew them up. When Monk played with a rhythm section, he'd use an overtly swinging bassist and drummer for contrast. But what if a bass player and drummer took the same liberties with time as the pianist? That would sound something like this trio from Boston. [excerpt from Lautir] Pandelis Karayorgis on piano, Nate McBride on bass and Randy Peterson on drums. Their CD Heart And Sack is on the Leo Lab label. The trio's time-keeping is so loose, sometimes it sounds like each player hears a slightly different tempo in his head. But just when you've given them up for lost, they all land in one place and head in one direction. For a little while, anyway. [excerpt from Miss Ann] That tune is Miss Ann by Eric Dolphy, another musician who knew something about quirky timing. Now, there's nothing bad about this. Other musicians who play games with time and rhythm include greats like Earl Hines, bluesman John Lee Hooker and Bahaman guitarist Joseph Spence. What I like about Pandelis Karayorgis's trio is, their brand of quirky timing walks a tightrope between swinging and not swinging ­ although to some jazz fans it will sound like they're not even in the tent. Listening to them can be like watching the tightrope wobble: thrilling because it's dangerous as they flirt with disaster. Better to make music that plays for high stakes, than to just play it sure and safe.
Terry Gross: Kevin Whitehead is the author of New Dutch Swing. He reviewed Heart And Sack by the Pandelis Karayorgis Trio on the Leo Lab label.
Kevin Whitehead, Fresh Air, National Public radio, 3/2/99 [Transcript]

As the ubiquitous John Corbett reminds us in his liner notes, "Lautir" was written by Ken McIntyre for his 1960 Prestige debut "Looking Ahead" (NJ 8247). Eric Dolphy gave it a thorough workout on that date (McIntyre's playing was rather weedy then compared to his later work with Cecil Taylor), but the latent potential of the tune's quirky angularity has had to wait until Pandelis Karayorgis' superb cover version here--is this the first time this piece has been covered? Karayorgis, a graduate of Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, is a muscular pianist--at times recalling Taylor, at times Misha Mengelberg, with a special fondness for the mid to low piano registers--and a fine composer (check out his originals here), ably backed by the solid no-bullshit team of Nate McBride and Randy Peterson. This is a trio well-versed in jazz: Peterson's hi-hat thwacks which open "Miss Ann" (hooray!--at last people are getting to grips with Eric Dolphy the composer) recalls Roy Haynes' work on the original 1960 "Far Cry"; McBride's full bass tone brings to mind Gary Peacock in another fine 60s piano trio, that of Paul Bley. Duke Ellington's little-known "Frustration", the third cover on the album, receives similarly original treatment; throughout, Karayorgis deviates from the standard head-solos-head format, breaking open the structure and allowing the music to define its own space. All in all, a superb album. Highly recommended.
Dan Warburton, www.paristransatlantic.com

***1/2 Pianist Karayorgis, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Randy Peterson negotiate 10 free-time meditations in slow-to-medium tempos, and the results are just about perfect. Combine the tensile strength of Lennie Tristano's single-note lines with the free rhythmic interplay of the old Paul Bley trios and there you have it. "Free" doesn't mean "no groove," and 4/4 is never entirely out of the picture. The trio's idea of syncopation extends to "weak"-beat accents, implied-beat accents, the broad sustain of McBride's bass (he mixes abstract patterns with deep, deep walking), and Peterson's ability to swing on an open hi-hat splash or the mix of kick-drum thumps with a deceptively casual roll off his snare. It's a conversational pulse that throbs behind the beat, deathlessly hip. The economical tunes average five minutes, including pieces by Eric Dolphy ("Miss Ann"), Ken McIntyre ("Lautir"), and Ellington ("Frustration"), as well as a strong handful of originals by Karayorgis and one by McBride.
Jon Garelick, The Boston Phoenix, Dec. 4, 1998

The liner notes to this disc quote the Greek modernist composer Iannis Xenakis; while "Heart and Sack" by the Pandelis Karayorgis Trio does not have Xenakis' spiky amelodicism, pianist Karayorgis is clearly aware of the territory staked out by Xenakis and his peers. These ten tracks all have a solid jazz sense of forward motion, courtesy [of] the fine drummer Randy Peterson and the superlative bassist Nate McBride, not to mention the directed sensibilities of Karayorgis himself. However, Karayorgis, while never straying too far from a melodic thread, works into his jazz trio some of the sounds and rhythms of music like that of Xenakis. He achieves a synthesis that is delightful and very much his own.

There are six originals by Karayorgis, one from McBride, and covers of Duke Ellington's "Frustration," Eric Dolphy's "Miss Ann," and Ken McIntyre's "Lautir," which McIntyre first recorded with Dolphy. "Lautir" is darker-edged than the original, enhancing the inherent exotica of the tune into a sense of real foreboding; "Miss Ann" is a rush of harmonic exploration that is barely recognizable. "Frustration" is given no less of a modernist reshaping, with fascinating interplay between Karayorgis' left-hand and then right-hand sallies, and McBride's bowed replies.

McBride is no less outstanding on Karayorgis' "What Did I Say?" and "How Daisies Jiggle." Both are angular, halting melodies, on which Karayorgis' searching piano musings are punctuated and underscored exquisitely by the bassist. Another Karayorgis piece, "Straight Blues," is a bit of a fib, although there is a blues skeleton here, over which Karayorgis plays like Stravinsky, when Igor was imagining what the ragtime he saw on a page of sheet music sounded like. That is no put-down: this is a reshaping of the blues, via the European classical tradition, for the ages. No less effective are Karayorgis' "I Heard Things," "Corpus Delicti," and the title track, and McBride's ironic call-and-response "Half Tilt."

This trio has found something new to say, and new ways to say it, in the well-traveled territory of the piano trio. This is an excellent disc, highly recommended.
Robert Spencer, www.allaboutjazz.com, December 1998

From the opening notes of Ken McIntyre's "Lautir," the piano trio led by Karayorgis casts a spell with probing and challenging angularity punctuated with a dense tonality. Karayorgis can be an extremely percussive player, building in power and intensity from softer openings to finish in a pounding way. His domination of the keyboard is central to the group's sound. They play mostly original compositions while giving a tip of the hat to a couple of legends - Dolphy and Ellington. The music is free in concept and execution, yet it has a subtle structure that lurks just beneath the surface, adding substance to the considerable improvised parts. The program does not consist of wild spurts up and down the keyboard. Karayorgis sets a controlled pace that allows the listener to get on board and remain in touch with the wide spectrum of concepts offered up by the band. Eschewing flowing lines for a more singular direction in song construction, Karayorgis develops the pieces note by random note much the way Monk approached improvising.

McBride appears to be a perfect foil for Karayorgis. His statements are clean, yet they provide a complex background from which Karayorgis builds his expansive solos. Peterson approaches free drumming with disciplined and restrained intensity. Never becoming overt, he is heard behind McBride and Karayorgis as an unimposing yet ever-evident source of power. These three Boston-area musicians have put together a neatly constructed album of free expression held together with the glue of Karayorgis's approach to and interpretation of composition. It will prove to be a worthwhile listening experience for you.
Frank Rubolino, Cadence Vol. 25 No. 2, February 1999

Karayorgis sounds like one of those players so bloody-mindedly focused on his own concept that accompanists had better fall in line or seek work elsewhere. There's nothing wrong with this - the same could be said of Cecil Taylor, for instance- and he is an elegant player, but his harmonic and rhythmic approaches are so downright weird as to severely test his fellow musicians' instincts.
What makes things worse for them is that as soon as, say, Peterson picks up what he's doing and starts to follow, Karayorgis seems to make a sideways leap and play something at right-angles to what preceded it, leaving the poor drummer to hammer home an accent which is no longer there. That Karayorgis does this on purpose seems undeniable, simply because he pursues this policy so consistently throughout this disk. It seems that he enjoys the tension, the xenochronous effect of piano and rhythm section moving in and out of phase. This is a disconcerting strategy at first, but eventually it starts to make some sense.

Nate McBride has something else to contend with: Karayorgis' harmonic idiosyncracies. Like all the best pianists who thrive on dissonance -Taylor, Crispell, Bergman, Riley and the rest - he miraculously has his own sound, harmonic strategies which seem to belong to him. Nevertheless, while it is easy enough for the listener to begin to feel at home with these ideas, it is much less so for a musician to develop a successful response for them in improvisation. This is why McBride, a fine player who takes some strong solos, is reduced to walking most of the time, or to fairly minimal contributions. It's a successful solution, inasmuch as the result is an agreeable sound, but one cannot help the feeling that the only approach Karayorgis' bulldozer may be just this: to keep out of the way.

The impression of the pianist as domineering may not be helped by the quality of the recording, which is not unlike having your head shoved under the piano lid. In fact, his playing is sensitive and extremely well thought-out, and John Corbett is right in his sleeve notes to call this a work of subtle understatement, although paradoxically it's a rather loud one with a lot of notes in it. Listening to Heart And Sack has much of the same pleasure to it as listening to Monk. One strains to follow his ideas as they constantly shift direction, smiling with what is a rare privilege these days, the privilege of not being talked down to.
Richard Cochrane, Musings

Boston based pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and young bassist Nate McBride are both graduates of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music while Karayorgis also studied under master pianist-improviser Paul Bley. Perhaps Bley's lasting influence serves as a paradigm or a foundation for this fine new recording titled Heart and Sack. Not without an identity of his own, Karayorgis shows characteristics that pay homage to the masters but fortifies his individual prowess with gifted chops and a strikingly personal approach.

While elder statesman saxophonist Joe Maneri promotes Boston, Massachusetts as a cutting edge town for free improv he has exerted considerable influence among top-notch jazz musicians and the results are significant. Maneri, the reigning master of free improvisation in the Boston area has bestowed many of his unique musical qualities and persuasions to the world of modern jazz. Thankfully, his influence has also rubbed off on many jazz musicians closer to home.

Along with drummer Randy Peterson, Karayorgis and McBride set forth to re-invent the piano trio. On cuts like What Did I Just Say ? Karayorgis leads with subtle, weaving chord structures accompanied by McBride's luminous and full-bodied bass sound. McBride is a star on the rise. This young man displays finesse, maturity and a diverse musical vocabulary. Randy Peterson, who has performed and recorded with Joe Maneri is a major force and contributor. Peterson's brand of drumming has a bop-ish slant. Peterson frequently extends the scope of these cuts with fancy yet non-intrusive rhythmic manipulations. He does a commendable job filling in the gaps and adding depth to the proceedings. On Eric Dolphy's Miss Ann, Karayorgis insinuates rhythm with punctual phrasing. McBride's intuitive walking bass compliments Peterson's odd meter rhythms while Karayorgis pursues thematic statements with invention and poise. There is continuous interplay of a call and response nature. Themes are deconstructed and reassembled. On McBride's Half-Tilt the Trio explores a slightly off center yet catchy theme. McBride utilizes harmonics, bends notes and takes the lead with intelligence and determination. Heart and Sack was produced by Mat Maneri and is a welcome addition to the increasing discography of Boston's vibrant and expansive modern jazz scene. The subtle nature of this outing lies within each musician's ability to develop intricate and poignant dialogue while never losing the tune. That alone, is art unto itself. Heart and Sack is highly recommended.
Glenn Astarita, www.allaboutjazz.com

**** Heart & Sack is much more obviously a jazz album and Pandelis's Monk influence comes across strongly. He does a wonderful cover of Dolphy's bluesy 'Miss Ann', Ellington's 'Frustration' and Ken McIntyre's rarely (if ever) covered 'Lautir'. That's enough to lend it interest, but the playing is richly evocative and never predictable, even if McBride and Peterson occasionally lapse into free ‑ jazz argot during some of Karayorgis's More abstract passages.
From “The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings,” By Richard Cook and Brian Morton, 8th Edition (2006)

In a sea of self-promoting artworks, acts of understatement and grace frequently go unnoticed and unremarked upon" laments John Corbett in the liner notes of Heart and Sack (LEO LAB CD 048).
Subtle art, like the one of the Bostonian Pandelis Karayorgis, floats hermetically closed, like "a message bottle" (thus Iannis Xenakis describes art) on the sea of ignorance. The mass of art and entertainment consumers are so conditioned to being told what they should think and feel when they see or hear something, that they can hardly experience a spontaneous heartbeat or feel goosebumps by music that does not carry the success seal of a bestseller list.

An enthusiastic eureka! should be the natural and inevitable response when listening to "Heart and Sack".
The Karayorgis Trio featuring Nate McBride on bass and Randy Peterson on drums, aims through aspects of the music of Thelonious Monk and Joe Maneri at the aesthetic perspective whose ideal is the zig-zag running rabbit. Karayorgis stumbles over his black and white field in such an unpredictable way, that every effort to follow ends up in an entanglement of mental convolutions. The pursuit is made more difficult by the bursting clouds of the bass and the percussion that wipe away the piano leaps like a camouflage dress. In the imaginary center of the sound tornado, one can nevertheless follow the capers like a dream, can even hum along all of a sudden. The inner swing and the coolness of this music are so great that the trio versions of oldies like Ken McIntyre's "Lautir", Dolphy's "Miss Ann" and Ellington's "Frustration" sound more like tomorrow than like yesterday.

I'd like to see which annual chart will lift a music like this from their mudded waters of Drum & Bass monotony, HipHop and saucy, naive chart hits.
Rigobert Ditmas, Bad Alchemy [Translation, view original gif]

John Corbett's liner notes to this album cite Misha Mengelberg, Paul Bley, and Lennie Tristano as possible influences on pianist Pandelis Karayorgis' playing. Thelonious Monk might be another. Yet, Karayorgis is an original voice, one who meshes tonal clusters with an uncannily angular and subtle style. Here, with drummer Randy Peterson and bassist Nate McBride, the pianist makes every note count, with an unpretentious, deliberately paced mix of attractive originals, plus some not-so-well-known pieces by Eric Dolphy, Duke Ellington, and Ken McIntyre. Karayorgis' lines follow their own logic, and sound almost as though he is performing with his elbows, which of course he isn't. Peterson and McBride are both very effective partners, sharing the leader's penchant for quirky, carefully constructed nuance. As a trio, they may not be trailblazing entirely new territory, but the journey is filled with tastefully delicious twists and turns.
Steve Loewy, All Music Guide

A Bostonian trio with chops to spare and a less-is-more attitude, The Pandelis Karayorgis Trio spin out seven originals and three surprising choices from the jazz book. Everything seems to go at a similar slow-to-medium tempo, with the staggering gait imposing a unity on what are otherwise disparate thematic threads. Karayorgis seems to think a block at a time, and he can get fearsomely dark sounds out of the piano. The deliberateness of the music can turn a little wearying but track by track this is strong, and even original.
Richard Cook, The Wire, January 1999 [U.K.]

It’s a double bill with two of the best trios in the city—heck, the world. One of ‘em belongs to pianist Pandelis Karayorgis (with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Randy Peterson). On its new Heart And Sack (Leo), the Karayorgis Trio does Dolphy, Ellington, and Ken McIntyre, plus some fine originals by the band. You can still hear Karayorgis’s Lennie Tristano jones, but add to the mix Monk, Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley. It’s brainy music with muscle, introspective trips that sustain their swing and tensile strength.
The Boston Phoenix, Nov. 20, 1998

Jazz - The year in review
#5. Pandelis Karayorgis Trio, Heart and Sack (Leo).
Karayorgis combines Lenny Tristano's sense of linear propulsion with Paul Bley's conception of the piano trio as a free-flowing three-way conversation. That makes for a coiled, winding and unwinding sense of swing driven by Karayorgis's prickly lines and expansive harmonies, bassist Nate McBride's mix of gestural abstractions and deep-walking, and drummer Randy Peterson's ability to drop the downbeat anywhere, confounding expectations and drawing you into this band's remarkable pulse. The “standards” include Eric Dolphy's “Miss Ann,” Duke Ellington's “Frustration,” and Ken McIntyre's “Lautir.”
Jon Garelick, The Boston Phoenix, Dec. 24, 1998

“ Here's that man again, this time with a bit more of a structured set. Mind you, there are times when they loose themselves a little. Karayorgis' piano has a lovely tone, especially on the 2nd track, the self-penned What Did I Just Say? Along with Pandelis is Nate McBride on bass and Randy Peterson on drums. Out of the ten tracks, three are covers, two of which are pretty damn fine ones too. Ellington's Frustration, and Dolphy’s Miss Ann. The total playing time is just under 51 minutes, and whilst I'd be the first to say I prefer my jazz more, well, musical this album isn't too bad at all. McBride's Half Tilt is a pretty impressive piece, and I must admit to having a soft spot for How Daisies Jiggle (it could be the title! and the aforementioned What Did I Just Say?”
Jiggy, (unknown publication), Issue 25

Karayorgis' judicious use of the piano's mass and force is also very much in evidence on Heart and Sack, a mostly self-penned trio date with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Randy Peterson. Karayorgis tenaciously hones single note lines, as on the quavering, Andrew Hillish ballad, "What Did I Say?," making his surging, tightly arpeggiated chords and quicksilver sweeps of the registers all the more surprising.
Though he repeatedly mines spare phosphorescent phrases-particularly on his brief reading of Ellington's "Frustration"-Karayorgis also revels in fleet, agile swing at strategic points in the program. His head-on take of Dolphy's "Miss Ann" and his effortless shifts into a simmering double-time on his own "I Heard Things" are particularly satisfying.
Despite Karayorgis' well-defined imprint on the album, this is a collective effort from beginning to end. McBride and Peterson's fluent contributions are essential to the program's pace and impact.
Bill Shoemaker, Jazz Times, July/August 1999

Irgendwo im weiten Land des Jazz steht eine Pyramide, die trägt - eingekratzt in Stein - verschiedene Namenszüge, nicht sehr viele. Am deutlichsten liest man: Ellington, Monk, Weston, Hill. Vor einiger Zeit öffnete sich eine verborgene Pforte dieses Bauwerks, und ein weißer Lichtstrahl trat heraus und traf einen Pianisten namens Pandelis Karayorgis, einen Schüler von Joe Maneri und Duo-Partner von dessen Sohn Mat. Karayorgis hat vor einiger Zeit (mit dem Saxophonisten Eric Pakula) packend die Tristano-Schule gewürdigt („Lines“), nun stellt er ein eigenes Trio vor (mit Nate McBride und Randy Peterson), das mit den Trios eines Oscar Peterson nur die Namen der Instrumente gemeinsam hat. Karayorgis spielt eckige, großintervallige Single-Note-Linien, einem sperrigen Saxophonisten ähnlich, er setzt schwebende Marksteine in die Luft, die irgendwie in eine rhythmische Ordnung kippen. Das ist die Weisheit der Pyramide: Ellington, Monk, ins Äußerste, Reduzierteste getrieben. Große Avantgarde.
Hans-Jürgen Schaal, Jazz thing 27

11 y a comme ca un penultieme foyer de musiciens aux alentours de Boston et, c'est la loi du genre, des "decouvertes" qui ne marquent jamais que le moment choisi pour repousser les limites d'une visibilite. A peine avions nous ecoute Joe Maneri (son fils Mat a enregistre et produit cette seance) ou Joe Morris a la porte atlantique, que d'autres curieux talents ne tardaient pas a se distinguer dans leur entourage immediat. Le guitariste Keith Yaun ou Pandelis Karayorgis, par exemple. Au petit jeu des rapprochements, eclairants et malvenus, le pianiste aurait la capacite de projeter dans le present l'improbable descendance de Lennie Tristano et Thelonious Monk. L'assertion est de taille, intempestive, abusive sans doute - comment l'ignorer. Mais mon intention n'est pas d'eriger Karayorgis en legataire ou en liberateur, simplement en homme conscient de ses determinations et de ses engagements. A Tristano, il doit ce jeu en single notes presque desequilibrantes et ces passations de tonalites comme au fil illusoire des ecluses d'un canal. De Monk, il a su reprendre les risques et les perils des melodies inoccupees et des dissonances adequates, et en affecter par exemple Frustration d'Ellington ou Miss Ann d'Eric Dolphy. Ajoutez a cela l'inappreciable, une conception du role du contrebassiste ct du batteur qui est, quant a elle, bien davantage heritiere de la plus grande liberte (d'epaissir, de devier, d'etre la), et peut-etre aurez-vous envie de vous rendre compte par vous-meme.
Alexandre Pierrepont Improjazz, Janvier 2000

Issu de la scène de Boston (Ran Blake, Joe et Mat Maneri …), le trio du pianiste Pandelis Karayorgis, avec Nate McBride à la contrebasse et Randy Peterson à la batterie, est de ceux qui font un bras d'honneur à la joliesse. Du côté de Misha Mengelberg, Marilyn Crispell et Cecil Taylor, comme le suggère justement le texte de John Corbett. Il faudrait ajouter le premier Paul Bley et les trios de Sophia Domancich, Irène Schweizer ou Myra Melford pour évoquer un univers de bribes, d'esquisses, d'avancées à découvert, de pétrissage de matière, de brumes dévoilées. Un univers où le in progress prime sur la forme finale, où l'acte importe plus que sa contemplation. Ce pourrait être aride ou auto-complaisant, c'est tout simplement aventureux. Les versions de Miss Ann de Dolphy ou plus encore de l' ellingtonien Frustration attestent une imagination très personelle. Avec un beau sens de l'espace entre trois musiciens particulièrement concentrés sur l'acoustique naturelle de leurs instruments, jamais forcés. Un premier essai attachant. **
Alex Dutilh, Jazzman

Translation: Issued from the Boston scene (Ran Blake, Joe and Mat Maneri ), pianist Pandelis Karayorgis's trio with Nate McBride on bass and Randy Peterson on drums, is one of those that give pretiness the finger. In the manner of Misha Mengelberg, Marilyn Crispell et Cecil Taylor, as John Corbett's liner notes justly suggest. Early Paul Bley should be added, as well as the trios of Sophia Domancich, Irene Schweizer or Myra Melford in order to evoke a universe of snippets, sketches, of kneading the materials, of unveiled mist, open on explorations. A universe where the "in progress" takes precedence over the final form, where the action matters more than its contemplation. What could be dry or self-indulgent is simply adventurous. The versions of Dolphy's Miss Ann or even more the Ellingtonian Frustration attest to a very personal imagination. With a nice sense of space between three musicians particularily concentrated on the natural acoustics of their instruments, never forced. A captivating first effort.
Alex Dutilh, Jazzman

Ce trio composé de Pandelis Karayorgis (p), Nate McBride (b), Randy Peterson (dr), membre de la scène créative de Boston, nous procure un intérêt des plus complets pour leur sens musical, écriture des plus subtiles qui traduit une musique très fraîche, bourrée d'originalite qui bien entendu fait tâche par rapport à la référence trio classique et oû l'humour sait pointer son nez. On sent en plus une attitude très Monkienne, mais retransposée. Une intéressante nouveauté.
Gérald Mathieu, Jazz Notes

Immediatement, c'est Thelonious Monk qui vient à l'esprit dans cette manière abrupte et brutale de plaquer les accords. Puis, quand arrivent les lignes de main droite en single notes, on pense à Lennie Tristano, et à Misha Mengelberg dans les improvisations liquides et discontinues du pianiste, et à Paul Bley of course. Pourtant, fort de ces enseignements majeurs (il a aussi etudie auprès de Joe Maneri), Pandelis Karayorgis apparaît comme un pianiste profondément original au toucher plein de nuances (délicat pointilliste ou véhément clusterman). Il est ici en trio avec le contrebassiste Nate McBride (un autre élève de Papa Joe) et le batteur Randy Peterson (présent sur les CDs Leo, hatART et ECM de Maneri). Tous trois renouvellent et revivifient cette formule orchestrale vieille comme le monde (du jazz) et s'imposent comme une relève salutaire.
Gérard Rouy, Revue & Corrigee

Karayorgis si e diplomato al Conservatorio di Boston; ma quel che piu conta e che sia riuscito ad assorbire, rielaborandola in una sintesi del tutto personale, I'influenza di Lennie Tristano e di Paul Bley, senza per altro ignorare Cecil Taylor e il suo senso della costruzione o certe suggestioni "eurocolte" contemporanee. Questo e un album molto interessante, caratterizzato dal frequente ricorso a un impegno percussivo della tastiera, con la predilezione per la mano sinistra che disegna (abbozza) paesaggi sonori prevalentemente scuri, a volte martellanti, a loro modo claustrofobici, spesso stemperati da una discreta dose di umorismo. Cio non toglie che, quando e il caso, Karayorgis sia capace anche di estrema delicatezza di tocco, come per esempio in How Dsisies Jiggle. Notevole e poi l'uso molto musicale delle dissonanze, il ricorso a clusters e a impennate improwise, rese possibili da scarti ritmici contrastanti con il tempo di base (I Heard Things). Grande e la prestazione di McBride e Peterson, che interagiscono ininterrottamente con il leader, intrecciando le loro i improwisazioni con le sue sino a creare un coesissimo discorso di gruppo. E un vero trio, nel solco dei piu importanti del jazz modemo e contemporaneo. Sei brani.sono del leader, autore ricco di inventiva armonica; uno (Half Tilt) e di McBride. Assai originali sono le riletture del dolphiano Miss Ann e di Lautir di Ken Mcintyre; tutta da godere quella dell'ellingtoniano Frustration. Si tratta di musica non facile, ricca com'e di sfumature, ma anche indicativa di come certe intuizioni dell'avangusudia siano foriere, se affrontate intelligentemente, di proposte mature ed espressivamente valide.
S.A., Musica Jazz. Maggio 99

Hailing from Boston, PANDELIS KARAYORGIS is of a growing number of younger generation improvisers whose role models are not clear cut. Yet, if one were to name an influence, it would probably be the belatedly discovered genius of microtonal improvisation Joe Maneri, with whom the pianist studied. His oblique and angular approach to the keyboard runs counter to the concept of linearity (which characterizes most of the jazz piano tradition), and may be described as an improvisational quilt of irregularly shaped patterns. With his partners, bassist Nate McBride and drummer Randy Peterson-Maneri regulars, by the way-Pandelis Karayorgis creates a very personal, if not private musical space which warrants very attentive listening, indeed. Oblique.

N'est pas du côté de la vélocité, de l'invention mélodique, du déplacement perpétuel, ... mais de l'insistance, du forage, de la compacité (harmonique), de la juxtaposition. Avare en couleurs (travaillant plutôt "ton sur ton", de proche en proche, et concentré sur la partie médiane du clavier), refusant toute gestique virtuose mais d'une énergie très dense. N'accorde pas beaucoup d'attention à cet art exquis (mais ô combien rhétorique) du commencement et de la fin. Préfère se planter là, dès le début, au milieu. Peu de sociabilité donc dans cette manière brute, heurtée et sans apprêts. Tant mieux. Cela nous sauve, entre autres choses, de ces parties lentes, suaves et ennuyeuses, qui accompagnent presque toute l'histoire du jazz. La lenteur, ici, ne vire pas au "lyrisme de l'intime" mais augmente encore la minéralité de la matière musicale. Comment ne pas penser à Thelonious Monk?
L. Lebrun, Discographie
Référence Médiathèque: UK0866
BAO n°9 sélection des mois de mars-avril 2000

Liner Notes by John Corbett
"In the past, when sailing ships were plying the oceans, they would put a message in a bottle and throw it in the water to signal they were in distress. Eventually it would be found by somebody who would, hopefully, call for help. It is this role that art is called upon to play. Many artists fight each other, for power, money, recognition - but in the final analysis that is what it comes down to: you throw a bottle in the water and somebody picks it up."
Iannis Xenakis

Too often, art in our age is called upon to advertise itself. It's not enough for an artist to have ideas, to create work from them, to make that work available to the world and to be responsible for its creation. The artist must instead produce his or her own PR, and eventually the art has to call attention to itself, lest it be swept away in the ocean of other, more flamboyant artworks. If there is something of value in a piece, the artist needs to flag it, send up flares around it, shout it out, make it so obvious that the reader or viewer or listener hits it like walking into a wall.

Weaned on this kind of brutal conspicuousness, the audience responds in kind by losing its interpretive acuity, growing weak and dependent on the helping hand of the artist who walks them through the work, reads aloud to them, index finger moving along under each proverbial word, with helpful explanatory notes interjected to insure that no ambiguity slips in and no shred of meaning slips past. "As for artists and writers who question the rules of plastic and narrative arts and possibly share their suspicions by circulating their work," wrote philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, "they have no guarantee of an audience."

Subtlety has no guarantee. In a sea of self-promoting artworks, acts of understatement and grace frequently go unnoticed and unremarked upon. This is the dark and deep pool -unforgiving public thalassa- into which Pandelis Karayorgis and his trio are tossing Heart And Sack. It is not a work with zippy PR tags or the sorts of ear-catching gimmicks that make good copy. It is, on the other hand, a profoundly subtle work that sounds fresh and original despite the fact that it occurs within the confines of one of the oldest and most cliché-encrusted musical vehicles: the piano trio. Few of today's players -Misha Mengelberg, Marilyn Crispell, Cecil Taylor- are capable of fully unwrapping that dusty mummy.

Up for the task, Karayorgis formed an aggregate with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Randy Peterson, both fellow members of the Boston creative scene. That community has positively flourished in the last decade - take, as indicative, the absurdly belated emergence of multi-instrumentalist Joe Maneri (with whom both Karayorgis and McBride studied) and his violinist son Mat, the latter of whom produced Heart And Sack. Peterson appears with papa Joe's quartet on a variety of other records released on Leo, hatART and ECM. A terrifically sensitive drummer, he's capable of maneuvering in the shifting roles of support and initiative required in a contemporary piano trio. Listen to him ease in and out of time on Karayorgis's Straight Blues - here too, the true complexity of the tune is ironically tweaked by the bold-facedness of its title. Subtle, no sock in the nose.

Like Karayorgis, McBride graduated from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Though he's relatively young and only just getting his discography under sway -a few super records with different units led by guitarist Joe Morris, piano trios with James Rohr and Cornelius Claudio Kreusch, a double-trio date with Chicago multi-reedist Ken Vandermark, and an earlier session with Karayorgis and alto saxophonist Eric Pakula- he's already a massive player. Grand, wood-grained sound, articulate with beautiful intonation and a stunning sense of motion in his improvising, McBride's really a musician to listen out for. I particularly like his relaxed swing on I Heard Things -off kilter stroll, switching into double-time, short solo with lovely harmonic dimension- his rock-hard unaccompanied spot on What Did I Just Say? and his wicked walk in and out of tandem with the pianist on his own contribution Half Tilt.

It's a stereotype these days to talk about the blurred lines between improvisation and composition, but Karayorgis's writing is extremely transparent, allowing seamless extemporization and variation. The sneaky melody on What Did I Just Say? gives a good idea of how subtle a writer he can be, and also what a scary pianist he is. A droll, dry sense of humor lurks in his pieces, as in their titles -indeed, useful comparison could be made with Mengelberg, particularly in the fruitful deployment of clunky cluster bombs in the midst of otherwise flowing linearity (the Dutchman's figure of a flopping hare). But Karayorgis has such a tremendous touch, so light and deft- his understated, haiku-like version of Ellington's Frustration calls to mind Paul Bley, with whom he studied, and there are hints of Lennie Tristano in the snake-like threads he sometimes unfurls. Heart And Sack contains two Eric Dolphy related items: Dolphy's own Miss Ann (given the most memorable reading here since Anthony Braxton and Muhal Richard Abrams tackled it in '76), and omni-reed player Ken McIntyre's great Lautir, which McIntyre recorded with Dolphy in 1960. Excavating a composition long forgotten, but still full of wonder; McIntyre's own message launched from his ship 38 years ago, only now picked up.

The Karayorgis trio's is music of nuance, intricacy, inference, implication. Subtle music. It doesn't wear its heart (or, presumably, its sack) on its sleeve. Significance is latent - it's there, but not at the surface. A letter encased in glass, bobbing in the sea, waiting to be found.

Break the bottle. Read the note.
John Corbett, Chicago, June 1998


| top |

| bio | press | recordings | projects |contact | photos | video |