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Album Review

Pandelis Karayorgis Double Trio: CliffPools


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Pandelis Karayorgis Double Trio: CliffPools
Visit any dog park and you'll notice canines need no instruction on how to play together. Chasing the ball, chasing each other, or investigating a pond is quite instinctive for our furry friends. Apologies for equating the master musicians heard on CliffPools with a pack of dogs, but a ferocious struggle for dominance this is not. Boston-based pianist Pandelis Karayorgis had the idea to merge two of his piano/bass/drums trios into one coterie of kindred spirits. His trio work with bassist Nate McBride dates back twenty-plus years with the Pandelis Karayorgis Trio, Mi3 and the more recent release, Pools (Driff Records, 2018), with Luther Gray. The second trio includes longtime associate, drummer Eric Rosenthal and bassist Damon Smith. They released Cliff (Driff Records, 2018).

The music consists of three Karayorgis compositions and seven improvised pieces. Without knowledge of which is which, all the tracks could be described as freely improvised or to the same extent, composed. The interplay between these dogs is that instinctual. Credit also must be given to recording and mixing engineers Eric Kilburn and Antonio Oliart for separating the musician's sound, Smith and Gray (left), Rosenthal and McBride (right), and Karayorgis on top. That separation allows listeners to parse out Smith's bow work against McBride's plucked notes or Gray's cymbals against Rosenthal's snare.

A rousing opener, "Weft," is indeed that, an energizing wake up of thunderous bass and roiling drums. The pianist jumps (or is he pushed?) at the energy music, battering keys as he surfs horizontally. With like instruments paired for a bit of back-and-forth across channels, "Warp" develops slowly and quietly. Same equation for "Formed Shed," except it broils before tapering off with the two drummers exhausting the pulse. Pandelis Karayorgis, who has always had a connection to the music of Thelonious Monk, can free himself of structure "Catapult" much like another Monk devotee, Alexander von Schlippenbach. He does though, always retain this internal groove with capable assistance from his two trios.

Track Listing

Weft; Blue Shadow; Plateau; Scale the Firmament; Cocoon; Undertow; Warp; Formed Shed; Catapult; Self-Headed.


Pandelis Karayorgis: piano; Nate McBride: bass; Damon Smith: piano; Luther Gray: drums; Eric Rosenthal: drums.

Album information

Title: CliffPools | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Driff Records

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