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Klampanis, Petros - Irrationalities


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Klampanis joins with longtime friends, pianist Kristjan Randalu and drummer/percussionist Bodek Janke, in his first outing with a trio. The detailed orchestration and rhythmic tension of Klampanis’ previous work with strings translates seamlessly to a smaller group context Bassist Petros Klampanis, based both in his native Athens, Greece and also New York, has earned acclaim as “a formidable player and composer” (JazzTimes) and “a musician who has always spoken from the heart” (Downbeat). Irrationalities, his fourth outing as a leader, his second crowdfunded album (after Minor Dispute), his first ever with a trio and his first release for the storied German label Enja, speaks to his persistent reality of living across two cultures, of “being up in the air all the time,” as he describes it. Citing Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel Invisible Cities, specifically a passage about cities being “made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret,” Klampanis sets out with Irrationalities to capture the feeling of “living in an imaginary city that combines Greek and European culture and New York culture.” With this comes a struggle “between certainty and uncertainty,” Klampanis adds, “between having a structure and at the same time breaking free of structure, being open, discovering life. Traveling has been a big part of it.” In a life that can feel unmoored at times, Klampanis’ trio with pianist Kristjan Randalu and drummer/percussionist Bodek Janke provides all the anchoring solidity he could ever need. “I feel that I discovered my musical family with these two musicians,” the bassist says. Of Estonian and Polish descent respectively, Randalu and Janke met as 10-year-olds growing up in small-town Germany and have been musical brothers ever since, recording in duet as Grupa Janke Randalu (Live, 2008). Randalu has distinguished himself on ECM recordings as a leader (with Ben Monder and Markku Ounaskari) and with Trygve Seim. “Kristjan is so solid,” Klampanis marvels. “If I just painted on a staff he would play that. He can read everything. Bodek is influenced by Indian and Brazilian music but with strong jazz foundations, and also classically trained. He plays a mixed drum set and also plays tabla, combining all these different elements.” Shifting from the larger, string-based ensemble sound of his previous albums Chroma and Minor Dispute (a chamber-group focus that also played a big role in his 2011 Inner Circle debut Contextual), Klampanis devotes Irrationalities to his strong and highly evolved trio concept. Still, all the nuance and complexity of his string writing enters into the trio’s language as well: “Arranging is a huge part of what I do, and I think that’s the special thing about the trio: there’s a lot of thought about choice of registers, orchestration, rhythm — a lot of decisions and details, not only for the main melodies but also the improvised sections. I try to explore everything I developed working with strings and incorporate it into this musical vehicle.” Klampanis also deepens his engagement with Greek folkloric and popular music on Irrationalities, while drawing on influences from the wider Mediterranean and Balkan region as well. The program is original except for “Thalassa Platia” (“wide sea”), a classic Greek ballad by the great Manos Hadjidakis (“the Jobim of Greece,” in Klampanis’ estimation), arranged for the trio in 5/4. And the Levant/Heyman standard “Blame It on My Youth” receives a treatment in the Bulgarian kopanitsa rhythm of 11/8 (4-3-4), pointing the heartrending ballad in a more ambiguously groovy direction. For Klampanis, the very title “Blame It on My Youth” circles back to the theme of certainty versus uncertainty: looking back at youth with tinges of regret is part of our ever-changing perspective. The uncertainty theme is first established with the leadoff track “Easy Come Easy Go,” inspired by what Klampanis calls “a dance with life”: “People are coming into your life and leaving, there are joys and disappointments, and you have to keep going.” Roiling percussive rhythm and spellbinding bass/piano unison passages set the album in riveting motion from the start. “Seeing You Behind My Eyes” is “a more emotional, sentimental tune based on the kalamatiano rhythm, a very common Greek dance in 7/8 (3-2-2). It’s like an aggressive kind of ballad — the first section is more open and impressionistic, the second is more grooving and grounded.” It was the title track, “Irrationality,” that came first for Klampanis, sparking the rest of the album’s creation. Strikingly, Klampanis starts with his own overdubbed multi-part vocal, layered in a crisp and funky staccato before the trio takes over. After an exceptional Randalu solo, the group embarks on a culminating vamp figure that shifts tempos in a seemingly effortless sleight-of-hand, a shining example of trio chemistry and refined communication. “No Becomes Yes,” its title perhaps referenced in the deceptive major cadence at the end, also finds the trio at its sparkling and cohesive best in a tense and springy 5/8. The title relates again to changing perspectives: “It expresses the fluidity of things. As life goes by, you come to understand that something you considered solid was not solid at all. So it’s ‘No Becomes Yes’ but also vice versa. Sometimes we have to change our conceptions in order to go forward.” “Temporary Secret,” a vignette in three different versions (the third being a hidden track after “Blame It on My Youth”), threads through the program with a loping groove that captures “the momentum of life,” says Klampanis. “The first two soundscapes are connected to the urban environment — in the first you hear the New York subway and in the second it’s the airport.” The music almost falls into the background as the samples fill the sonic space, but with the hidden track the band returns to center stage. We hear the sounds of nature at the beach, with Randalu summoning brilliant harmonic colors over the groove. As all these fine performances reveal, Klampanis has reached the next level as an artist with Irrationalities, and will only move forward from here. Like Marco Polo in the Calvino novel, he conjures his own “invisible city,” inviting us to walk through its streets, discover its secrets, be amazed by its beauties and dive into its darkness. In the process he embraces his own irrationalities: the fun and the drama, the fantasy and the mystery, the poetry and the burdens of everyday life.
Fakta
Varenummer YEB7797
Stregkode 0767522779721
Udgivelsesdato 18-10-2019
Kategori Jazz
Plademærke Yellowbird
Medie Type CD
Antal enheder 1
Kunstnere
Kunstnere Klampanis, Petros
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