With encompassing subtlety and delicacy of touch, Guillermo Gregorio, Pandelis Karayorgis, and Mat Maneri range over the musical spectrum on this disc. Without the theatrics of Sun Ra, but with a kindred sensibility, the trio turns from the unstintingly abstract "Crimson Mountain" to Fletcher Henderson's "Red Dust." Gregorio's clarinet catapults back in time for a moment - leading into an improvisation of the same prickly abstract, low-voltage quality as that which graced the first track. The most riveting action comes toward the end of the track, when the trio works Henderson's theme into the framework of the abstractions they've been exploring.
And so the tone of the whole disc is set. Gregorio essays "These Foolish Things" on tenor, as quietly as is his trademark to be, mournfully and almost unaccompanied. The tune is stretched almost beyond recognition but never quite breaks, and becomes the source and foundation for a new launch into the wild unknown. Likewise Red Norvo's "1-2-3-4 Jump," on which Maneri and Karayorgis lead the way.
"Slipped Fifths," another Gregorio original, is more unyieldingly abstract (although always restrained and unruffled); it features Maneri at his best, fluttering with the leader on the edge of silence. On these tracks all three players approach the "duet with silence" Steve Lacy attempts in his solo concerts. Maneri and the rest are more animated on "Woodchopper's Nightmare," a haunted Gregorio excursion on various common pre-bop phrases. The trio is at its most telepathic here.
On "Red Skies" Karayorgis is magnificent, and Gregorio weaves some breathtaking lines with him on clarinet. Chuck Wayne's "Cottontop" is dour but somehow playful as well: a dry joke. Bing Crosby's "Chu's Spectre" is charming, albeit scarcely recognizable. Red Norvo's "Lost Weekend" is closer to home, although no less adventurous. The finale, "Ana's Lullaby," begins by stalking inexorably, but, fittingly enough, loses its way in the tall reeds.
A fascinating disc by three master musicians.
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Track Listing: Crimson Mountain / Red Dust / These Foolish Things / 1-2-3-4 Jump / Slipped Fifths / Woodchopper's Nightmare / A Study in Scarlet / Red Skies / Cottontop / Chu's Spectre (Ghost of a Chance) / Lost Weekend / Ana's Lullaby.
Personnel: Guillermo Gregorio (clarinet & tenor saxophone); Pandelis Karayorgis (piano); Mat Maneri (electric violin).