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Pandelis Karayorgis/Mat Maneri: Disambiguation

Pianist Pandelis Karayorgis has constructed five pieces on Disambiguation that are difficult to follow, but rewarding for those willing to hear them. Karayorgis devises multipart suites in such compositions as the title cut and “Three Plus Three,” with segments marked by intense group exchanges, while other parts within the same song are characterized with lingering silences, lighter refrains or sweeping unison passages.

Rather than using trumpet or trombone as a contrasting voice to tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby, Karayorgis has chosen violinist Mat Maneri. Sometimes Maneri plays like a hot-jazz swinger from the late ’20s, executing darting forays, sweeping lines and joyous phrases, then he’ll venture into more somber, probing passages, plucking strings or bending and stretching his statements to get a pensive sensibility. Saxophonist Malaby also veers between strong, blues-drenched solos and more reflective, less intense statements.

Karayorgis, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Randy Peterson hardly comprise the traditional rhythm section. Formanek and Peterson sometimes drop out a tune at the top or near the end. Formanek can be almost inaudible, or seem to be playing an uncomplementary line to Peterson’s tempo, but somehow Karayorgis holds everything together. “Home” is the one number on the disc that’s closer to what can be termed mainstream jazz.

Otherwise, the quintet never does what might be anticipated, something that certainly adheres to the notion that jazz is the sound of surprise.

Originally Published