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>Pandelis Karayorgis:
>The Other Name


  The Other Name
Pandelis Karayorgis
Motive MP 001, 1992

Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
Mat maneri, electric violin
Erik Kerr, drums

Recorded April, May 1992

available on Bandcamp

• Solo Piano:

1. Evidence
(Thelonious Monk) 2:39
2. Pannonica
(Thelonious Monk) 2:49
3. Gallop's Gallop
(Thelonious Monk) 2:59
4. When Sunny Gets Blue
(J. Segal, M. Fischer) 2:51
5. I Love You
(Cole Porter) 3:17
6. Star Crossed Lovers
(Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn) 2:28
7. Bye Bye Blackbird
(M. Dixon, R. Henderson) 3:00

• Piano & El. Violin:

Three Parts Of A Name
(Pandelis Karayorgis)
8. Part I 4:19
9. Part II 3:07
10. Part III 1:53
11. Sophisticated Lady
(I. Mills, M. Parrish, Duke Ellington) 2:25
12. Body & Soul
(E. Heyman, R. Sour, F. Eyton, J. Green) 2:28
13. Prelude To A Kiss
(I. Gordon, I. Mills, Duke Ellington) 4:27

• Piano & Drums:

14. Trinkle Tinkle
(Thelonious Monk) 3:19
15. Introspection
(Thelonious Monk)3:35
16. Body & Soul
(E. Heyman, R. Sour, F. Eyton, J. Green) 3:10
17. Let's Cool One
(Thelonious Monk) 2:46
18. Ugly Beauty
(Thelonious Monk) 4:07
19. Think Of One
(Thelonious Monk) 3:53



If you (criss) cross Cecil Taylor with Thelonious Monk, what do you get? The answer could be Pandelis Karayorgis. He's been compared to both, and I was prepared to hear Taylorish Monk tunes having read the comparisons and seen the preponderance of Monk compositions on his new recording. What this disc revealed, however, was an accomplished improviser who has successfully melded the quirkiness and wit of Monk with Taylor's restless pianism. Monk the composer comes out, as expected, in such pieces as Evidence and Trinkle Tinkle. But the pianistic side of Monk appears as well in the standards When Sunny Gets Blue or Bye Bye Blackbird. Add the European atonalism of Taylor, and what you get in Karayorgis is an artist who not only knows how to chose the right "wrong" notes, but one who at the same time explores the inexhaustible timbral possibilities of the instrument. He can caress the keys with the lyrical touch of Bill Evans, too. Listen to the duet with the drummer Erik Kerr on Introspection. It's not contrived music, though. The stylistic influences are all harmoniously joined in such a way that one gets the sense Karayorgis is headed towards a singular voice. ... the music is stimulating, at times surprising, and certainly original. To his credit, Karayorgis has chosen some of Monk's less frequently done tunes, and it's interesting to hear how he approaches the music with a partner and then without.
Dan Shimp, Crosswinds, March 1993, Albuquerque, NM

The question of emulation over innovation is particularly perplexing for those exploring the frontiers of creative improvised music. The credo of the free music revolution was one of relentless innovation. But boundaries can only be pushed so far at one time, and once that's accomplished those inspired to play by the first and second generation of innovators are likely to start looking back. But the legacy of those innovators is so heady it takes awhile for their followers to move out of their shadows and define their own contributions. These discs move in that direction. Don't be deceived by the repertoire of Pandelis Karayorgis's disc. What might appear to be another retro-bop outing revisiting Monk, Ellington, and the standard songbook, is in reality an uncompromisingly intense deconstruction of these tunes. ... the pianist takes his dissections of the master's (Monk's) works further. He separates each sinew for study. He approaches the Ellington and other songs in a similar fashion. But he also keeps the melody of the song in play, giving these the sense of extended if highly abstract theme statements. The work demands concentration; a scholarly quietude pervades the tracks ... The one original, Three Parts Of A Name, represents the personal use to which Karayorgis puts the knowledge derived from his investigations. The listener interested in challenging variations on familiar material will be rewarded for the concentration necessary to appreciate this date.
David Dupont, Cadence, April 1993

The pianist is heard solo, and in duets with violinist Mat Maneri, whose plain-spoken near-vibratoless style is a perfect fit, and drummer Erik Kerr, whose sometimes aggressive rhythmic counterpoint is fresh and spontaneous. Karayorgis' melancholy, abstract, spatially open Pannonica alone marks him as a student of ... Ran Blake. Blake's Lennie Tristano influence surfaces in Karayorgis' whirlpool motion (Cole Porter's I Love You), and Karayorgis shares his teacher's sensitive keyboard touch. But this CD fares better than Blake's recent Monk recital Epistrophy (Soul Note). Karayorgis catches a lot of Monk's musical values without cloning his clank.
Kevin Whitehead, Tower Pulse, April 1993

Excellent album! Nice sound on piano.
Jim Wilke, Jazz After Hours, American Public Radio Network

Karayorgis is a Greek-born pianist whose whole musical approach hinges on fragments. Listen to his version of Thelonious Monk's Evidence­Karayorgis fractures the song's rhythm, melody, and even the time. His approach echoes that of Ran Blake, a champion of Karayorgis and sometimes Paul Bley. Karayorgis's partners are also willing to fragment this music. A third of the recording is with violinist Mat Maneri, who plays musical hide-and-seek with the pianist. Their reading of Body and Soul has to be one of the most disembodied on record; Maneri's diving and swelling lines are in secure accord with Karayorgis's own playing. The seven solo pieces are the most grabbing and endearing­especially Evidence and Bye Bye Blackbird. Karayorgis's name may be difficult to remember, but his piano playing deserves considerable notice.
Russ Summers, Option, May/June 1993

The suspensin of any and all traditional concepts of melody, harmony and rhythm still leaves me wide-eyed, and I have the utmost respect for those who can pull it off. Gifted with great technical facility, Greek pianist Pandelis Karayorgis can and does pull it off, and his collaborators ... are undeniably talented. This disc showcases the collective, and individual virtuosity of all three. ... Body And Soul sounded like someone had spilled a bottle of correction fluid on the manuscript ... but it still made for fascinating listening. The Other Name is ideal for the out as well as the outward bound.
Carol Comer, The Pitch, March 24-30, Kansas City

Debut of a young pianist, Pandelis Karayorgis, American of Greek origin, in the world of improvised music with a CD that is substantial, and removed from the anodyne bombardment of hard bop clones.
Using only one original composition among a series of compositions by Thelonious Monk, he evokes the school of individualism of such diverse masters as Ran Blake, Paul Bley and Borah Bergman, plus some standards recreated with a violinist and a (magnificent) drummer. Karayorgis accomplishes his personal pianistic project, leaving only one question in the air: how will this alumnus of the Conservatory of Boston, 3d Stream department ­given the contributions of such musicians as Ran Blake, Jaki Byard and Ricky Ford­ evolve?

A recent quartet performance in Barcelona and his CD Between Speech and Song (Cadence) point to Herbie Nichols and Lennie Tristano, influences that are rare for a musician of his generation ­and I am thinking here of Benny Green, Marcus Roberts and Danilo Pérez.
In the final balance, on the negative side lies the third of the CD with the violinist who is simply timid, while on the positive side, all the rest: Erik Kerr.

The mature concentration that his improvisations reflect, especially when playing alone, and the inspired selection of repertoire, make an important point for a musician who would like to communicate a respect for the artistic conception of his illustrious and underrated antecessors without renouncing at the same time his own voice. DownBeat has ignored this edition-revelation; allow me to recommend it.
Edward Fuente, Cuadernos de Jazz

Negative reviews:

… The listener who doesn’t “get it” is branded as some sort of inferior being whose musical knowledge is limited to ad jingles or corny pop tunes. Any criticism of this style is sloughed or laughed off by the artist as the feeble workings of an insensitive or ignorant mind. The implications of such a mind-set are both obvious and ominous. These musicians consider themselves higher beings than their audience, and probably sit around sighing in frustrated anger that their work has such a limited appeal. They are so convinced that what they are doing is not only right, but Music Of The Future, that they are willing to wait until after they’re dead to be appreciated. … The head gurus of this new style are alto saxophonist Joe Maneri, who teaches in Boston, and his son, violinist Mat Maneri. They have been struggling to get students and fellow-musicians to accept their gospel for years, and now they appear to have found both a willing pupil in Greek-born pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and obsequious critics in various newspapers and magazines.
Stephen Stroff, The Music Box, Spring 1993

This is a contemporary recording of young musicians engaged in experimental jazz improvisations. … Even after repeated listening I find it impossible to decide what the musicians are attempting to achieve. The short pieces mostly sound much longer than they actually are and tedium is the main order of the day. Everything is low key, disjointed, unmelodic and unrhythmic too. In the final section of duets with drummer Erik Kerr, Karayorgis demonstrates a working knowledge of some Monk compositions, but anyone wanting to hear new ways of playing Monk should listen to the supremely talented Jessica Williams, currently doing just that. In his solo playing Karayorgis manages to destroy the melodic and harmonic structure of such strong tunes as Star Crossed Lovers and When Sunny Gets Blue, which takes some doing. This CD may interest collectors of the bizarre or those intent on following every aspect of new trends in jazz, but the young musicians are ill-served by the sloppy production of the album. Personally I shall want to hear something more positive before being convinced that they have anything really new, or interesting, to offer.
Pat Hawes, Jazz Journal International, September 1993

The failure of these two albums by local pianists Karayorgis and Carlberg owes much to their inability to extend the legacy of Thelonious Monk and the avant garde. Karayorgis is a fanatic Monk worshipper who covers no fewer than eight of the master’s tunes. He gets the odd note placements and the minimalist approach right, but he offers few insights or new twists on the music. … the sense of a new voice is missing. The sole original tune, Three Parts of a Name, is the kind of beep-and-squawk nightmare that helps give the avant garde a bad name. … neither has a clear vision of future directions.
Bob McCullough, Boston Globe, October 14, 1993


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