Guillermo Gregorio

Approximately

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Given the shifting ensembles Guillermo Gregorio has assembled on this session, it's easy to guess why the record is titled this way. All of these various groupings of musicians move around ever so slightly, changing the timbres and voicings of these chosen compositions just enough to matter. And yes, Gregorio is being given the benefit of the doubt here, as it becomes nearly impossible by the back sleeve to tell who goes where. And if listeners are paying so much attention to the sleeve, how do they pay attention to the music? Forget the sleeve -- throw it and its pretentious liner notes away (or at least hide them) -- while listening to this fine work. Gregorio is still sorting out his composing and arranging strengths, tilling the soil of further development, and it's fascinating to see it all coming together. With violinist Mat Maneri a near constant here (he's on all but one track, Art Lange's composition, which is the spine of the album), he has an ally in his articulation of a music that is not so much a melding of new classical music and jazz, but a new jazz that is classical music. And he uses the tradition in a manner that is akin to Franz Koglmann -- whom he played with for a number of years -- but also moves away from the "white line" that Koglmann focuses on so distinctly. In the first six pieces -- "Approximately," "Two Ambiguities," "Aural," "In Absentia," "Caution," and "The Other Notes" -- Gregorio, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, and Maneri, along with saxophonist Eric Pakula and bassist John Lockwood on most of these pieces, forge a new jazz minimalism, where improvisation and compositional elements are one, but they are also just that: elements. All tonalities are decentered, all rhythmic notions are collapsible, and notions of timbre, interval, harmony, texture, meter, and real time are all given to subtle, quiet flux, interchangeably touched by other elements in a given piece. As previously mentioned, Lange's "Four Shapes on Paper" is the turnaround on the album. It's the only overly "new music" work here and should have been left off. The tempos start to change and engage on all four cylinders on "Kromos #2," with a killer clarinet solo by Gregorio and Maneri's violin sawing away the harmonic scope underneath him. Gregorio is still a bit of an academician, but at least he has a sense of humor, and is very musical. Approximately is a fine album -- if only it weren't for that aggravating back sleeve.

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