Pianist Pandelis Karayorgis has performed internationally at festivals and clubs in Europe and the United States. Recordings appear on labels such as Leo Records, Hat Art, Cadence, Clean Feed, Nuscope, Boxholder, Okkadisk, Accurate, Leo Lab and HatOLOGY among others.
He has led or co-led his own groups whose CD's have often been voted into reviewers' top-10 lists in magazines such as Coda, Cadence, Jazz Times and Jazziz. His main ongoing projects include the Pandelis Karayorgis Trio, featuring bassist Nate McBride and drummer Randy Peterson and the mi3, featuring McBride and drummer Curt Newton. He has also worked and recorded with Mat Maneri, Joe Maneri, Ken Vandermark, Tony Malaby, Michael Formanek, John Lockwood and Guillermo Gregorio among others.
His CD Heart And Sack was featured on National Public Radio's program Fresh Air. In the liner notes to Leo Records' release Disambiguation, Kevin Whitehead notes: "This is what jazz should be like at the dawn of its second century: deft and complex without making a big fuss over either quality." His latest CD is Foreground Music a duo collaboration with Ken Vandermark.
Mat Maneri, born on October 4th, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York is an American composer, improviser and jazz violin and viola player, specifically derivatives such as the five-string viola, the electric six-string violin, and the baritone violin. He is the son of the saxophonist Joe Maneri.
Maneri has recorded with Cecil Taylor, Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris, Joe Maneri, Gerald Cleaver, Tim Berne, Borah Bergman, Mark Dresser, William Parker, Michael Formanek, John Lockwood, as well as with his own trio, quartet, and quintet. He has also played on various band releases: Club d'Elf, Decoupage, Brewed by Noon, Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, Buffalo Collision.
Maneri started studying violin at the age of five and received a full scholarship as the principal violinist at Walnut Hill High School and New England Conservatory of Music, but left classical education to pursue a professional career in jazz music.
He started releasing records as a leader in 1996 and presently performs and records worldwide. Maneri currently works with Ed Schuller, John Medeski, Roy Campbell, Paul Motian, Tomasz Stanko, Robin Williamson, Drew Gress, Tony Malaby, Ben Monder, Barre Phillips, Joëlle Léandre, Marilyn Crispell, Craig Taborn, Ethan Iverson, David King and many others.
Maneri also teaches privately and through the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York and works as sound engineer and producer.
In 2006, Maneri was nominated for a Grammy award in the category "Best Alternative Music Album" for the CD Pentagon.
Reviews of In Time
Really recommendable the meeting between pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and violinist Mat Maneri is very intimate. It is almost painful to hear these two people constantly responding to each others ideas and furnishing them with introvert comments. The spirit of Paul Bley, who supported this project, is very much present as well is the spirit of Monk, especially in the composition Ugly Beauty: here improvisation is equal to navigation: carefully and fully in control they sail the sea of unaccountable sounds. It's a masterpiece.
D.W., De Morgen, September 2, 1994, [translation, view original in gif format]
This date was the first meeting between violinist Mat Maneri and Greek pianist Pandelis Karayogis. As a work of restrained beauty and subtle textures and colors, it is nearly a masterpiece. Both players have a respect for what is held back, what is left silent in a piece of music. Perhaps this is the reason they chose to both open and close their program with Thelonious Monk's "Ugly Beauty" (numbers one and two). The intensity of listening here comes across immediately, as neither player seems interested in unnecessary dynamic or dramatic episodes. Instead, melody and counterpoint are the only places for engagement in this nearly mystical meeting between two minds so alike in their search for perfect microtonal improvisation it becomes a single point of focus. Given the spiritual presence of Monk, the album's original improvisations take on spectral, even ghostly pallor as well. Maneri is playing an electrified violin and carrying his sense of monody and the modal approach to melody Karayorgis whose shape-shifting sense of timbral elegance is both original and full of nuances gleaned from players like Bill Evans, Andrew Hill, and Randy Weston. The most beautiful thing here is Maneri's "Blue Seven," a spontaneous composition. Its haunting, lone violin line carries a lilting melody over eight measures in 4/8 time before Karayorgis enters, playing an elegiac series of chords and small tonal clusters that highlight Maneri's fragile, yet continuous melodic invention. Karayorgis isn't playing counterpoint so much as he is creating a counter-melody, based entirely on the intuition of where Maneri will take what he has left of his original statement. The piece, as it moves back and forth over 12 minutes, alternately sings and sobs over a small series of pitches and scales; it is heartbreakingly beautiful. This was an auspicious meeting of two young minds who had already in 1994 established their own voices on a burgeoning jazz improv scene.
Thom Jurek, All-Music Guide
Many pianists have shied away from Thelonious Monk's challenging compositions, shunning the influence of his angularity. And Cecil Taylor's boldly creative free jazz is something they avoid like the plague. But pianist Pandelis Karayorgis is a brave soul who has been greatly influenced by both of these daring piano innovators and fashioned a radical sound of his own. The Boston-based Greek immigrant isn't an innovator himself, although he's definitely original. Electric violinist Mat Maneri engineered Pandelis and altoist Eric Pakula's Between Speech & Song, an album that was highly cerebral but not as "outside" as the avant-garde and very free In Time. With Maneri and Karayorgis forming a duo and sharing the spotlight on In Time, it's especially evident just how strong their rapport is. Karayorgis wears Taylor's influence like a badge of honor without being nearly as abrasive. In Time is tough listening, but undoubtedly worth the ride.
Alex Henderson, Jazziz, April 1995
The improvising is atonal and highly charged. Modern jazz has been fascinated by the sparse world of Anton Webern since Chicago jazz musicians started addressing issues of space and silence in the 60s. Currently, much free playing in London sounds like improvised Webern; Maneri and Karayorgis have found a cool, convincing way of doing it. Thoughtful and impressive.
Ben Watson, Hi-Fi News & Record Review, September 1994
From a duo in Massachussets, made up of pianist P. Karayorgis and violinist M. Maneri we have been hearing concentrated and-since they put me in a reflective mood-rather thoughtfully composed nocturnes. In their jazzy moments they cover the creative mind of Thelonious Monk, however their center of gravity lies -in a welcome sense-in cooler, more introverted chamber music which tickles my ears with its intelligence and melancholy.
Bad Alchemy, No. 24, [translation, view original in gif format]
A change of course with the Maneri-Karayorgis duet, two accomplished musicians whose compositions give the same importance to piano and electric violin (which is amplified in such a way that it sounds close to acoustic). In Time is situated in between “classical” music and jazz, in between convention and going beyond. For Maneri and Karayorgis liberties seem to be conceived from a solid base, reflective, “knowledgeable”. The original compositions are based on construction and precision, before they are let free to the interpretation and the inspiration of the moment. A double take of Ugly Beauty by Monk confirms this impression: even though totally unusual, it shows profound respect to the musical heritage left by the elders. That is also why this album will seem either audacious or conventional, according to the sensibility of each listener. Without doubt, a certain knowledge of the musical language is equally required in order to be able to appreciate it totally. This does not keep In Time from having an immediate charm, which leaves no doubt lingering about the talent and the creativity of the duo. All this with a tranquil force and with reserve.
Jazz in Time, No 55 September 1993, France [translation, view original in gif format]
By paring down melodies to their absolute essentials, by stripping the window dressing and flourish from each and every note, Maneri and Karayorgis achieve humility before the muse, and function as channels rather than egos. This recording borders on the sublime. The music is spare, but it is neither minimalist nor concept music. It is spontaneous, raw, and organic; complex in conception, simple in execution. Tension and gentility walk hand-in -hand in the manner of Bartok, but with more room for the accidental.
Liner note author Julia Werntz refers to Monk perfectly as "the master of communicative introspection," which well describes Maneri and Karayorgis's approach. In other circumstances, one might say they rip the Monk tune to shreds, as only the subtlest shadow of a recognizable melody remains. But in these hands, all that can be said is that the tune is treated on the basis of its disposition rather than its melody. Monk's paradoxical lines are seen as lessons to work with rather than scores to be played.
The originals are rarefied abstractions dealing in themes of solitude and grace with close attention to the finest details. They understand how changing the pressure of bow on string will create subtle, dissonant vibrations which affect the temperament of a whole piece. They appreciate the emotional consequences of wandering apart from one another, and of reconvening. Throughout there is a sense of meditation coupled with agitation, a portrait of life in its shifting states. Like Cecil Taylor, Karayorgis can bring a volume of sensations from a single chordal cluster. Maneri is as moody as a bitter winter, and plays with shifting sets of grouped notes to portray change and constancy. On the restrained end of the spectrum, this is some of the most substantial abstract improv I've heard.
Scot Hacker, Cadence, November 1994
Melodic bits extracted from the great planetary arioso ... this music soberly embraces our questions about the world.
Philippe Méziat, Jazz Magazine, France, [translation, view original in gif format]
The Maneri/Karayorgis album is a quietist gem of concentration and elision which seems to develop out of the elder Maneri's ideas. Pianist Karayorgis etches bare melodic shapes while Maneri's violin snakes long convoluted lines with and against the grain of his partner's playing. There's a powerful mood of disquiet about the music, with no space for certainties. But despite this shifting unease, there's a surprisingly homogeneous feel: there are no sudden departures from the rules of the duo's game of controlled freedom. Well worth exploring.
Will Montgomery, Rubberneck
In Time is another in a long line of uncompromising work from Leo Records, one in which Karayorgis and violinist Mat Maneri show remarkable interaction.
Dan Shimp, KSFR, Santa Fe
Liner Notes by Julia Werntz
On In Time Mat Maneri and Pandelis Karayorgis are presenting a collection of improvisations as refined and straightforward as a series of composed works. The music here consists largely of the basic elements of melody and counter-melody, and there is very little emphasis on sound-effects or atmospheric material. There is a strong urgency to each moment of this music, and against this is set a relentless criterion of restraint. This lends the music on In Time a strongly pensive character.
The musician who desires to touch and affect his listeners yet also insists on taking them through uncharted territory must be able to navigate the course: to react immediately to the surprises which surface and arrange them into a compelling narrative. If this is accomplished, then all involved (performers and listeners) will experience a sense of really journeying somewhere. Maneri and Karayorgis demonstrate such an ability on this recording.
The points of departure are six original compositions and two interpretations of s single melody by the master of communicative introspection, Thelonious Monk. Monk's compositions have been re-invented and re-stylized countless times, but what occurs here is an internalization and abstraction of the music at hand, with no attempt to "dress it up". The choice to perform this piece twice is further evidence of the seriousness with which these two musicians treat their material. Some might question the necessity for this type of exhaustive persistence. However, in an age when there seems to be little patience for the finest details of music-making, there is something stimulating and therefore very valuable about a CD such as this which openly invites the listener to really listen.
Julia Werntz, 1993