Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pandelis Karayorgis and Nate McBride Duo

If you don't know Pandelis Karayorgis and his pianism, you are missing out on something. He's been around a while, lives in Boston, and has his own take on the avant improv free piano. There are players of the piano who are free yet their playing comments implicitly on the bop and beyond tradition they extend; then there are players that break the thread and emerge into a world of "pure" improv. This rule of thumb doesn't completely hold true to every player across the board. But think of Paul Bley for the former and later Cecil Taylor for the latter. Connie Crothers can go in either camp, Don Pullen could too. And Pandelis on his Let It (Cadence Jazz Records), straddles the line, crossing in either direction as the muse warrants.

This CD came out a few years ago. It gives you a substantial sampling of what Mr. Karayorgis can do in duet with bassist Nate McBride, who puts in an excellent performance on these improvisations, as anybody who knows his work might expect.

Pandelis is is great form on this one (but then again I've never heard him sound badly). There is a Monk influence to his playing, among other things, and it comes out in his staccato-sfortzando attack on dissonant chords and hard hitting single lines, not to mention some direct Monk quotes and a version of "Criss Cross" here. Karayorgis has so internalized the influence though that it is the voice of Karayorgis that speaks to us, wholly, whatever he plays.

McBride and Karayorgis have the kind of two-minded unity in this series of duets that few such interactions manage to achieve. They are on the same wave-length and inspired to give their best.

Let It provides plenty of examples of why I find Karayorgis on my short list of the most interesting free pianists working today. That list would include the aforementioned Ms. Crothers, and. . . well, Matthew Shipp, Anthony Coleman, of course Cecil Taylor, and I am leaving out people but the point is the handful is small. Let It gives you a more naked Karayorgis, if you will, an exposed player in the act of creation. So that is probably an excellent place to start for his music. Find out more about the album at www.cadencebuilding.com. Click on Cadence Jazz Records when you get there.

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