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Jazz

Pandelis Karayorgis/ Nate McBride/ Curt Newton

November 3, 2008
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Betwixt

Hat Hut

ESSENTIAL "Saturn"

"Betwixt" is the third release from the Boston-based jazz trio known as mi3, though curiously that moniker does not appear anywhere on the new album. The captain of the ship is Pandelis Karayorgis, who returns to the Fender Rhodes electric piano for this outing with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Curt Newton. Karayorgis's utilization of the Fender Rhodes reminds me of the way Larry Young played the organ. No tired clichés are employed. Nor is this anything like fusion; don't come to "Betwixt" expecting "Bitches Brew." Instead, Karayorgis approaches the electric piano almost as though it's a horn with a broad palette of textures and expressive possibilities. And like his hero Thelonious Monk, Karayorgis emphasizes the space between the piano's notes as much as the notes themselves. He plays with understated elegance on Duke Ellington's "Heaven," goes for straight-up bebop on a few Monk tunes, kicks up the distortion on "Brake's Sake," and channels Sun Ra's space-age proclivities on "Saturn." Long after its heyday in jazz and rock, Karayorgis is taking the ol' Fender Rhodes to new places. (Out Nov. 11) - STEVE GREENLEE

Mi3 plays at the Lily Pad on Dec. 7.

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