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Pandelis Karayorgis/Nate McBride: Let It

“Taking a Line For a Walk” is not only the title of Let It’s lead track, but an apt, near-definitive description of Pandelis Karayorgis’ approach to piano playing. He’s like a musical Slinky heading down a set of stairs, unpredictably shifting from slow, ponderous, fragmented, right-hand-only movement to furious, Cecil Taylor-like chases that slip, stumble and stretch all over the keyboard. Recorded informally in Karayorgis’ living room, Let It has the pianist and bassist Nate McBride using the informal setting to create joyful, avant explorations that celebrate freedom but never escalate to pure self-indulgent cacophony. McBride’s a perfect foil to Karayorgis: his fierce plucking sounds like flip-flops slapping against heels as he runs in the pianist’s footsteps.

More than just the harmonies suggest Karayorgis has Monk on the brain: he peppers the set with well-integrated but sometimes distracting snippets of Monk’s famous melodies. A nearly nine-minute version of “Criss-Cross” serves as a labyrinthine centerpiece, and during an all-too-short 30-second passage within, they’re almost playing straightahead: McBride’s strut is confident in 4/4 while Karayorgis plays the melody, each line eventually stumbling into charming Monkish discord. Even the most hardened nontraditionalists will at the very least tap their feet.

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