Petros Klampanis Melds Jazz, Classical, Folk, and World Music Into Expressive Fusion On Minor Dispute…
Greek-born Bassist/Composer’s Second CD, out [date] via Inner Circle Music, Pairs Gifted Jazz Band (Jean-Michel Pilc, Gilad Hekselman, John Hadfield) with Lush String Quartet
Described by JazzTimes as a “formidable bassist and composer,” Petros Klampanis grew up in Greece, surrounded by the confluence of Mediterranean and Balkan folk music. He went on to study classical music in Athens, Amsterdam and New York City before emerging on the NYC jazz scene, where he’s performed alongside some of the city’s renowned jazz musicians, including saxophonist Greg Osby, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, and drummers Antonio Sanchez and Ari Hoenig.
All of those influences converge in prismatic and unexpected ways on Minor Dispute, the bassist’s second release for Osby’s Inner Circle Music label. Klampanis’ innovative arrangements swathe his bold compositions for jazz quartet in lush but vital string quartet writing, accented by world music rhythms and folk melodies. The result is a truly multi-cultural fusion of influences that speak together with a surprisingly singular voice.
“My main source of inspiration while composing the music for Minor Dispute,” Klampanis writes in the liner notes, “was how we embrace and express the bright and dark aspects of our characters during the process of becoming better human beings. Minor Dispute is essentially a study on honesty.”
Like the varied musical influences that color his compositions, these seemingly irreconcilable aspects of human nature may seem to be in dispute, but it’s from their harmonization that unique beauty emerges. That’s especially true in Klampanis’ work, which finds passionate expression through the commingling of his wide-ranging influences.
The album begins with its fragile and mysterious title track, penned after the more literal “minor dispute” between Klampanis and his girlfriend. More broadly, he says, the tune “describes the disputes we have with ourselves and the people around us when we’re asked to be honest about something.” It’s followed by the eclectic and constantly morphing “Monkey Business,” which the composer explains “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.”
“Lily’s Promenade” depicts a little girl’s walk through the woods with cinematic colors, a more sophisticated retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” in musical form. The tense, frantic “Ferry Frenzy,” meanwhile, earned its taut urgency the hard way, having been written while Klampanis sped to catch a ferry from one Greek town to another island on his motorbike so as not to be stuck until the next boat – two or three days later. “It was a stressful experience,” Klampanis recalls in understated fashion.
Hekselman’s “March of the Sad Ones” first appeared on the guitarist’s 2013 CD This Just In, where it caught Klampanis’ ear and inspired him to reconfigure the song orchestrally. Jobim’s achingly beautiful “Luiza” is one of the bassist’s favorites from the legendary Brazilian composer’s renowned catalog, while “Thalassaki” is a well-known Greek folk tune remembered from childhood. Klampanis has also arranged the piece for the Greek Public Symphonic Orchestra in Athens, with whom Klampanis toured in December 2013.
The title “Thalassaki” is a diminutive of the word for sea, Klampanis explains. “It’s a traditional song that everybody in Greece knows and grows up with. 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. It’s part of me.”
Minor Dispute features a band that itself boasts globe-spanning origins: guitarist Gilad Hekselman hails from Israel and pianist Jean-Michel Pilc from Paris, and while drummer/percussionist John Hadfield was born in the States, his studies encompass everything from Indonesia to India to rock and electronica. In addition, the album includes guest appearances from Polish-born percussionist Bodek Janke and santuri innovator Max ZT.
A native of the Greek island of Zakynthos, Klampanis dropped out of the Polytechnic School in Athens to pursue his musical passions, and in 2005 began double bass performance studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory. In 2008, he completed his formal studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music in New York, where he quickly began collaborating with some of the city’s most renowned jazz musicians. In addition to his extensive list of appearances locally, including the storied venues of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, he has performed at the internationally-acclaimed North Sea Jazz Festival and the Palatia Jazz Festival in Germany.
Klampanis’ relationship with Greg Osby led to the release of his début album, Contextual, on the saxophonist’s Inner Circle Music label. The album was praised by acclaimed bassist Arild Andersen as “one of the most exciting projects I have heard from a bass player in years.” Klampanis has received equal praise for his playing and composing. Fellow bassist Drew Gress notes his “aggressive melodicism, beautiful intonation, and uniquely personal string writing.” In 2012, Klampanis was invited by the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra for a series of concerts throughout Latvia. Also an in-demand educator, Klampanis has given workshops internationally and serves as a guest lecturer at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and the Ionian Academy of Music in Greece.