Petros Klampanis – Minor Dispute [TrackList follows] – Inner Circle

Petros Klampanis – Minor Dispute [TrackList follows] – Inner Circle Music INCM 049CD, 44:35 [4/14/15] ****:

(Petros Klampanis – double bass, voice, piano, producer; Gilad Hekselman – guitar; Jean-Michel Pilc – piano; John Hadfield – drums, percussion; Maria Manousaki, Megan Gould – violin; Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin, Matt Sinno – viola; Yoed Nir, Colin Stokes – cello; Bodek Janke – percussion; Max ZT – santuri)

There is a telling inscription on the inside flap of bassist Petros Klampanis’ latest CD, the 44-minute Minor Dispute (out now on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music imprint). He equivocally writes, this “is essentially a study on honesty.” He prefaces his statement with how the seven tracks were designed to “embrace and express the bright and dark aspects of our characters, during the process of becoming better human beings.” That philosophical deepness permeates Klampanis’ new work. People are not stereotypes or one-sided, but are built with myriad personalities and qualities, which explains why the Greek-born composer’s sophomore CD melds many portions into a unified whole, comprising jazz, classical, folk and world music components. Helping Klampanis to reach his goals are an international cast: Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman; Parisian pianist Jean-Michel Pilc (who leads his own trio); American drummer John Hadfield; a string section (violin, viola, cello); and two guests: percussionist Bodek Janke and Max ZT on santuri (a type of hammered dulcimer found in Iran, Iraq and India).

The notion of mingling different influences can be heard right away, on the title track, inspired by a “minor dispute” between Klampanis and his girlfriend. Klampanis clarifies the theme is universal, that it “describes the disputes we have with ourselves and the people around us when we’re asked to be honest about something.” The tune begins with a delicate and slightly shadowy introduction that has pearly percussion, arcing strings, subtle bass and solvent piano. The arrangement gradually plucks up in pacing as Hekselman enters, his gossamer guitar lines counterpointed by the strings and double bass. And then a quick, swinging cadence starts and the discussion heats up. That’s followed by the continually changing “Monkey Business,” which, Klampanis reveals, “describes our thoughts when we’re not very focused and our mind goes from one thought to another like a monkey jumping from tree to tree.” There is a stirring string quartet segment which hints at Klampanis’ classical music education; other highlights include Pilc’s moody piano chords; a soulful bass solo; a filigreed guitar improvisation; and throughout there is an insistent, rhythmic main theme. Klampanis recorded and filmed an alternate version which shows some variations in arranging and soloing, which is also worth hearing.

There is a cinematic sensation on the sophisticated “Lily’s Promenade,” which evidently aurally illustrates a little girl’s journey through the woods, a kind of reimagining of the traditional “Little Red Riding Hood” tale. The interplay between Hekselman’s guitar and the curving strings is splendid; the lithe piano and heady percussion form a juxtaposition of tonality; and there is a perception—via the musical changes—of a chase, respite, more chase, more respite. There is a real chase which courses through “Ferry Frenzy,” which is based on when Klampanis was frantically speeding to catch a ferry from one Greek town to an island. The next boat would not arrive for two or three days, and Klampanis relates “it was a stressful experience.” There is a tense and anxious mannerism, with the drums, percussion, bass and piano keeping up an agitated beat, while there are dashes and flashes of guitar. Klampanis also slips in some complimentary, wordless vocalizations which echo his bass lines. Luckily, there was a happy ending to Klampanis’ race to the boat: he got on. That finale is mirrored in the outro, which has a peaceful pace and is accentuated by the sound of slowly flowing water.

Not all of the seven tracks were penned by Klampanis.  He provides a sensitive touch to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s beautiful ballad, “Luiza,” an engaging homage to both the Brazilian composer, as well as the underlying romanticism collectively felt by couples everywhere. Klampanis shapes this melodic tune into a way to emphasize a chamber jazz style. Pilc, Hekselman and Hadfield supply an exquisite foreground, while the harmonious strings furnish a burnished backdrop. Klampanis filmed another version, which has more of Pilc’s translucent keyboard. Another piece which contains finely-spun orchestrations is a translation of Hekselman’s “March of the Sad Ones” (the original is on his 2013 album, This Just In). While Klampanis’ adaptation is not the same as Hekselman’s, a warm tone is retained, the intricacy and nuances are not lost, and Klampanis’ arrangement has similar sharpness and animated textures. Like he did with other cuts, Klampanis filmed an alternate, longer performance of “March of the Sad Ones” which is quite good. Klampanis concludes with a return his national roots. “Thalassaki” is a rendition of a well-known Greek folk tune he recalls from his childhood. Klampanis avows “it’s very special to me because it’s one of my favorite songs and I always wanted to arrange it for my band. It also has to do with honesty.” Klampanis previously arranged “Thalassaki” for an Athens symphony, and part of that larger symphonic arrangement can be heard in the inclusion of the string quartet, which augments the melody and also assists rhythmically. The tender and welcoming number, which has memorable input from the entire group, is a nicely personal way to finish the album. [The Amazon link is only for the MP3 version thus far…Ed.]

TrackList: Minor Dispute; Monkey Business; Lily’s Promenade; March of the Sad Ones; Ferry Frenzy; Luiza; Thalassaki.

—Doug Simpson

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