Gregorio/Swell/Karayorgis

Window and Doorway
Driff Records CD 1301

Equilibrium involve in balancing a small-scale, so-called Chamber Jazz session so that it sounds neither slapdash nor formal is an art in itself. If the organization is too formal, the result can be as lifeless as pretentiously notated sounds; too slapdash and the balance dissolves and loses its focal point. That’s why the sonic architecture displayed on Window and Doorway is so impressive.

Another of the session`s points of interest is that rather than being string-centred, the 11 compositions and group improvisations advance the qualities of trombone, clarinet and piano, with the chordal instrument’s qualities serving to underlay the more powerful horn sounds. This isn’t much of a stretch since each of the trio members is experienced in many forms of musical organization. Chicago-based clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio composes music and plays in improv settings; New York trombonist Steve Swell has been a member of many Jazz and improv bands; and pianist Pandelis Karayorgis has had similar experiences in-and= out experience from his Boston base.

Turning aside any over-refined currents that characterize the first part of the program, the three boost intimations of spits and slurs into Karayorgis’ “Lifgatowy” which sounds like a Thelonious Monk line performed by Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd. Considering that the pianist is part of The Whammies, a Lacy tribute band, it’s not surprising. Here the jaunty descending line is shaped by high-frequency piano pounding which ratchet up to ferment, as Gregorio’s hard glissandi and Swell’s sympathetic obbligatos temper the intensity.

“Curves And Angles”, a group improvisation, is just as noteworthy, as the three proceed to expose exactly what the title promises. They improvise in spiky triple counterpoint while rarely crossing one another’s expositions. The pianist’s pedal point cascades extend the narrative chromatically as concentrated exhilaration is intensified when the horns accelerate to high-pitched sonic violence.

Other pieces range from expanded technical texts which abut contemporary so-called classical traditions to those which posit a unique variant of what could be called Jazz. On the former, delicate, near-romantic clarinet lines often give way to top-of-range palindromes as the trombonist turns to choked vale work and the pianist dynamic contrasts. Other tunes such as the pianist’s “In the Cracks of Four” posit what would have happened had a honky-tonk pianist snuck into a Schoenberg seminar. Karayorgis moves effortlessly from showcasing walking bass diffusion to exploring the tones and timbres of different pitches.

Building on a variety of influences cleverly internalized, the three offer a window and a doorway to memorable sounds.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Texture 5 2. Hazy Recall 3. Window and Doorway 4. Lifgatowy 5. Coplanar 1+2 6. Curves and Angles 7. Planimetria 8. In The Cracks of Four 9. Thinly Veiled 10. Summer 11. Nu Blu

Personnel: Steve Swell (trombone); Guillermo Gregorio (clarinet) and Pandelis Karayorgis (piano)