Pandelis Karayorgis: System of 5 (2011)
This kind of playing is prevalent throughout System of 5, an album that absolutely pulsates with extraordinary brilliance from end to end. The music here is created with sublime ingenuity and what is more, it is celebrated by every one of the 5 associated with Karayorgis' so-called system. And what might this seemingly simplistic system be? Far from rudimentary, it is an agglomeration of the individual genius of five musicians of considerable skill who desist from infusing the music with individualistic personality, preferring, instead, to treat each startling chart with equally startling interlocking of the sum of all the skills in the ensemble. This does not mean no soloing, but it is is not done in the conventional sense. For instance, when trombonist Jeff Galindo waxes eloquent with his growling and stuttering smears and human speech-like solo on "Seventh Wonder," the ensemble chugs alongside, seeming to egg him on, as if in conversation about his wild narrative. Similarly, bassist Jef Charland challenges Karayorgis elsewhere on the album, when he takes flight on a rhythmically propelled harmonic excursion.
The best example of this is on "Elastic," after the ensemble has run the ductile piece down in a couple of bars, releasing Karayorgis to take flight. There is also here a magnificent entwining of Karayorgis and Charland. So tight is this section of the chart, with the laconic jumping and walking of Charland, that it appears he is the glue that joins one musician to the next. And when the song leaps into overdrive at a doubled pace, it is the bassist who drives the trombone and the superb rhythms of drummer Luther Gray. Here is System of 5 at its finest. And just when it appears that "Elastic" has run its course and has nowhere else to go, the song dissolves into a swirl of brushed skins, maddening rolls of the piano and wild bleating of the saxophonist Matt Langley, before Karayorgis and Gray bring it all together until its memorable end.
Track Listing: Transit; Two-ophony; Elastic; Seventh Wonder; Curt's Escape; Stray Line; Due East; Tones Not Notes.
Personnel: Matt Langley: soprano and tenor saxophones; Jeff Galindo: trombone; Pandelis Karayorgis: piano; Jef Charland: double-bass; Luther Gray: drums.
Record Label: Hat Hut Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde