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One of the major attributes of System of 5 pertains to the modality of New England area pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, which lies between modern jazz, with heavy rhythmic nods to Thelonious Monk, and a newer slant that parallels the current state of jazz imperialism. Backed by a new band, the musicians overlap mainstream persuasions with tricky time signatures and passionate improvisational implementations. The pianist abides by a democratic process, but also incorporates well-rehearsed complexities into the grand schema.
The quintet gels to a swing vibe that appears and decentralizes within various movements. In addition, Karayorgis is a melody-maker throughout these absorbing works. The ensemble skirts the free side of matters, but the pianist's compositions are designed with structure. This is not another formulaic post-bop extravaganza, however; Karayorgis and the soloists weave between geometric-like architectures, amid a distinct sense of expressionism.
The swing and bop elements are represented in various flavors as the leader cranks out a Monk-ish groove, followed by soul-stirring solos from saxophonist Matt Langley and trombonist Jeff Galindo on the opener, "Transit." And on "Due East," Karayorgis comps, contrasts and accelerates the band, while Langley dishes out a scorching tenor sax vamp.
The quintet injects the mind's eye with linear theme-building exercises amid some pop, sizzle and zigzagging choruses along the way. Yet the big picture dictates that Karayorgis's sustainable compositions and focused support system seamlessly aligns a manifold game-plan with a highly-entertaining form factor on System Of 5.
Track Listing: Transit; Two-ophony; Elastic; Seventh Wonder; Curt's Escape; Stray Line; Due East; Tones Not Notes.
Personnel: Matt Langley: soprano & tenor saxophones; Jeff Galindo: trombone; Pandelis Karayorgis: piano; Jef Charland: double bass; Luther Gray: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.