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>Window And Doorway



Photo by Peter Gannushkin/DowntownMusic.net

Window And Doorway
Driff Records 1301, 2013

Guillermo Gregorio, clarinet
Steve Swell, trombone
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
Driff Records 1301, 2013

Guillermo Gregorio, clarinet
Steve Swell, trombone
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano

available on Bandcamp


1 Texture 5
(Swell) 9:30
2 Hazy Recall
(Karayorgis) 3:53
3 Window And Doorway
(Gregorio/Swell/Karayorgis) 3:11
4 Lifgatowy
(Karayorgis) 6:48
5 Coplanar 1+2
(Gregorio) 3:49
6 Curves And Angles
(Gregorio/Swell/Karayorgis) 4:20
7 Planimetria
(Gregorio) 3:09
8 In The Cracks Of Four
(Karayorgis) 4:13
9 Thinly Veiled
(Gregorio/Swell/Karayorgis) 3:53
10 Summer
(Karayorgis) 3:45
11 Nu Blu
(Swell) 5:34

Total time 52:00


Window and Doorway

Facing sideways between the noonday splendor, a sound directs its crooked grin
Against a shaded aurora deepening its meaning for the rest by asking not to be
robbed of any duplicity that may accommodate the porthole to pleasing sonorities

Muted impressions for the ear without engendering fleeing but inviting a closer 
examination tying myself once again to the curiosity of the intermingling of musical
sensibilities that encourage fissures to reliable ideograms

Expressing a particular possibility for some through which this threshold might 
release a disinclination to fully enter with an unobstructed view and
Yet, notwithstanding an impulsive reflexive pale absurdity that is so me, here,
            I am linked to that open door

Steve Swell 11/14/12



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


Part of where free-avant improvisation has been going has something to do with "New Music", that is it draws freely upon non-jazz concert elements at times but still has the expressivity and immediacy of jazz. We can hear this in a vivid way from three masters of free music who improvise and compose in equal measure. I refer to the trio of Guillermo Gregorio (clarinet), Steve Swell (trombone) and Pandelis Karayorgis (piano) in their live performance at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, released on CD with the titleWindow and Doorway (Driff 1301).
Each of the trio contributes two or more compositions as springboards for the improvisations and there are also three collective works.
Steve Swell should be known to all as at the top of avant trombone player-jazz composer-bandleaders. Pandelis Karayorgis may not be as well-known out there but has built a considerable reputation (deservedly) as one of the brightest new voices. Guillermo Gregorio I do not know all that well, but on the basis of this recording he certainly is right up there with the other two.
The music is abstract without being arid. It has soul and brains, too. It is doubtless one of those sleeper disks--something of great impact and avant beauty but not as well heard as it should be. The performers come through with a group synchronicity born of compatible, fertile musical imaginations and sensitive improvisational reflexes. The compositions set the mood and provide rough maps of the musical terrain which the trio covers with agility and creative thrust.
It's a disk to be heard and appreciated. Gregorio, Swell and Karayorgis are dwelling in advanced, frontier musical settlements and they stake out the territory with authority.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review, Dec 5, 2013 (link)

Trombonist Steve Swell is a musician whose presence on the New York (and international) improvised music scene is crucial, though his name might not always be the first called when one takes roll of heavy-hitters.

While often associated with a more outwardly expressive approach to improvising, his discography and concept are incredibly diverse and range from free swing to measured exploration. Three recent discs showcase the latter in small-group chamber settings. (…)

The trio on Window and Doorway presents interesting points of comparison and divergence from Estuaries; featuring Swell alongside pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio, the 11 pieces are a mixture of original compositions and group improvisations. Karayorgis' playing in this context focuses on aptly placed, brusque clusters and piano-guts grappling as well as his Monk/ Herbie Nichols/ early Cecil Taylor rhythmic shove. Among the pieces most indicative of Karayorgis' hands is ”Lifgatowy", its craggy runs and volumes limned by mouthy, keening chortles. Swell is boisterous but with a controlled classicism throughout and a powerful foil for Gregorio's cross-register winnow. The three embrace a spirited roll and postwar clamber on the pianist's "In The Cracks Of Four", punchily orchestrated to evince a tough ensemble beyond the three musicians on view. While this trio operates without a traditional rhythm section, there's nevertheless a massive amount of motion and detailed contrast, even in the sparest of circumstances.
Clifford Allen, New York City Jazz Record, July 2013 (PDF link)

Gregorio/Swell/Karayorgis - Window and Doorway (Driff, 2013) ****
I saved the toughest one for last. Almost opposite the trio recording in terms of accessibility and composition, this trio of Karayorgis, trombonist Steve Swell and clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio makes music that is sparse and spacious. The program contains a mix of pure improvisation juxtaposed with compositions from each group member.

Staring with the first track, Swell's 'Texture 5', the trio's approach to meshing composition and improvisation is on display. The track begins with a legato clarinet and supportive phrases from the trombone that are lightly underscored by the piano which grows more assertive as the tune progresses. Their abstract call and response has a certain hopeful melancholy binding the three musicians together. Eventually, Karayorgis is front and center, the roles reversed. The track ends with the trio engaged in some very energetic free playing, an intensive payoff for the patient listener.

Gregorio's clarinet is the first sound heard on the evocative 'Curves and Angles' which at first I thought must be one of the composed pieces, but is in fact a group improvisation that sees each member complimenting the other seamlessly. Actually, you may be inclined to think the whole album is composed, as pieces like Karaygorlis' 'Liftagowy' or Swell's 'Nu Blu', which beings with a harsh dissonance, all contain an infectious free spirit.

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)

In a certain way, it makes sense to find Guillermo Gregorio on an album called Window and Doorway (Driff). Though the Chicago-based clarinetist is a fluent and agile improviser, he’s equally adept at devising compositions that frame and give direction to his fellow musicians’ spontaneity. On “Planimetria” Gregorio, trombonist Steve Swell, and pianist Pandelis Karayorgis take turns initiating phrases that the other two complete. But it never devolves into a call-and-response exercise; instead each complete statement feels like a series of fluidly articulated compound sentences expressing an elegant train of thought.
Bill Meyer, Chicago reader, Nov 25, 2013 (link)

Equilibrium involved in balancing a small-scale, so-called Chamber Jazz session so that it sounds neither slapdash nor formal is an art in itself. If the organization is too formal, the result can be as lifeless as pretentiously notated sounds; too slapdash and the balance dissolves and loses its focal point. That’s why the sonic architecture displayed on Window and Doorway is so impressive.

Another of the session`s points of interest is that rather than being string-centred, the 11 compositions and group improvisations advance the qualities of trombone, clarinet and piano, with the chordal instrument’s qualities serving to underlay the more powerful horn sounds. This isn’t much of a stretch since each of the trio members is experienced in many forms of musical organization. Chicago-based clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio composes music and plays in improv settings; New York trombonist Steve Swell has been a member of many Jazz and improv bands; and pianist Pandelis Karayorgis has had similar experiences in-and-out experience from his Boston base.

Turning aside any over-refined currents that characterize the first part of the program, the three boost intimations of spits and slurs into Karayorgis’ “Lifgatowy” which sounds like a Thelonious Monk line performed by Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd. Considering that the pianist is part of The Whammies, a Lacy tribute band, it’s not surprising. Here the jaunty descending line is shaped by high-frequency piano pounding which ratchet up to ferment, as Gregorio’s hard glissandi and Swell’s sympathetic obbligatos temper the intensity.

“Curves And Angles”, a group improvisation, is just as noteworthy, as the three proceed to expose exactly what the title promises. They improvise in spiky triple counterpoint while rarely crossing one another’s expositions. The pianist’s pedal point cascades extend the narrative chromatically as concentrated exhilaration is intensified when the horns accelerate to high-pitched sonic violence.

Other pieces range from expanded technical texts which abut contemporary so-called classical traditions to those which posit a unique variant of what could be called Jazz. On the former, delicate, near-romantic clarinet lines often give way to top-of-range palindromes as the trombonist turns to choked valve work and the pianist dynamic contrasts. Other tunes such as the pianist’s “In the Cracks of Four” posit what would have happened had a honky-tonk pianist snuck into a Schoenberg seminar. Karayorgis moves effortlessly from showcasing walking bass diffusion to exploring the tones and timbres of different pitches.
Building on a variety of influences cleverly internalized, the three offer a window and a doorway to memorable sounds.
Ken Waxman, jazzword.com, January 2014 (link)

Enregistré au studio Firehouse 12 (comme le disque précédent). Jazz actuel fort intéressant, surtout pour les échanges entre la clarinette de Gregorio et le trombone de Swell. Or, ce sont les compositions de Karayorgis qui ressortent du lot. Il y a aussi trois courtes improvisations libres bien senties.

Recorded at Firehouse 12, like the previous album. Quite interesting creative jazz album, especially for the exchanges between Gregorio’s clarinet and Swell’s trombone. Yet, the tunes that stand out the most are Karayorgis’s. There are also three strong short free improvisations.
François Couture, Monsieur Délire, Journal d'écoute / Listening Diary 2013-07-26

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.

Die CD ”Window And Doorway" demonstriert vielge­staltig die enge und vielseitige Verbindung und Verschmelzung von Komposition mit Improvisati­on. Alle drei steuern Stücke/Konzepte bei; drei der elf Tracks sind hingegen reine Improvisationen. Schon in Swells ”Texture 9" besteht die abwechs­lungsreiche Dramaturgie in sehr verschiedenen Verfahren, Techniken und Moods. Eine abenteuer­liche Reise durch eine schnell sich ändernde Klang­ und Strukturlandschaft. Trotz Integration der Free Jazz-­Ästhetik eine Art von neuer Kammermusik.
Jürg Solothurnmann, Jazz'N'More Switzerland, Nov./Dez. Nr. 6/2013

Die Musik hat etwas Kubistisches an sich, wie das Cover bereits suggeriert. Kantigkeit, schroffe Harmonik, waghalsige Architektur. Die drei Musiker pflegen hier ihre kompositorischen Ambitionen, somit sind nur einige wenige Freiraume improvisatorisch zu gestalten. Dennoch stehen Fenster und Tür weit offen für kammermusikalische Kautzigkeit. Sperrig schön. Das Klaviertrio feiert im Jazz wieder fröhliche Urstände.
Stephan Roiss, Jazz Links, January 2014







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