The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD,
Richard Cook and Brian Morton
Raised in Greece, he studied at the New England Conservatory and under
Paul Bley and plays a ruggedly abstract style of piano. Has worked with
viol(in)ist Mat Maneri.
*** Lift & Poise
**** Heart & Sack
**(*) Let It
***(*) Blood Ballad
*** No Such Thing
Karayorgis has made several albums on Leo Records with Maneri. "Lift
& Poise"is probably the best of them, with the bonus of Joe M.
(clarinet on two tracks) and John Lockwood on the strength. There are
12 tracks, divided into solo, duo and trio pieces, exploring a range of
sonorities and improvising languages, ranging from the quasi-classical
to the free-form and brutalist.
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.
The duo date with McBride is actually rather dull, though there are moments
of genuine illumination as well, and it's the reconvened trio that captures
the attention on Blood Ballad. It's a tighter and more organized album
than the first, and there are no reference points apart from the closing
version of Coltrane's 'One Up, One Down', which might be taken from a
Marilyn Crispell session were it not so punchy and Monkian. The opening
sequence of 'In The Cracks Of Four' and 'Blood Ballad' probably represents
Pandelis's best moments on record and a very good place to start exploring
The trio with Vandermark will appeal mostly to fans of the reedman, though
Karayorgis's supressed cecil Taylor influence moves to the fore briefly.
Best to move straight on to Disambiguation, which reunites the pianist
with Mat Maneri in a scratch line-up that brings out the best in both
of them. Again, Pandelis's Monk influence is very evident, and he swings
more easily and relaxedly than on most of his previous records. The long
'Three Plus Three' (which might be a lost Monk score) and the title-piece
are the most effective cuts.