Chris solo at Jazz Jantar Festival, Gdansk, Poland 2021. Captured by Jan Rusek
Chris Pitsiokos (b. 1990) is a Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer and improviser. His compositions often provide a framework for performers to express a singular aesthetic vision without subjugating their voices as creative agents in their own right. In this way his work contrasts with traditional modes of composition in which the composer or band leader is the sole, or primary, arbiter of a unified, preconceived vision.
Chris has been praised by Rolling Stone for his “startlingly original vision” and “astonishingly fleet sax work.” Downbeat has identified his band CP Unit as “A persuasive combination of harmolodic jazz and contemporary noise rock.” As a soloist he has developed a unique voice on the alto saxophone: his expansion of the instrument’s vocabulary has served to multiply its emotive and formal possibilities.
As a bandleader and soloist, he has toured in Japan, the US, South America and Europe. In 2016 he was a resident at John Zorn’s club the Stone and contributed to Arcana, a series of books edited by Zorn. In 2017 he had a solo concert at ISSUE Project Room in New York, toured Europe with CP Unit for the first time, and toured Japan as a soloist and performed with luminaries Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Tatsuya Yoshida, Makigami Koichi, and Jojo Hiroshige (Hijokaidan). 2018 was marked by a busy festival touring schedule, including (but not limited to) two European tours with CP Unit and a duo tour with Otomo Yoshihide. In 2019 Chris toured South America for the first time and completed a 21-show solo tour of Canada and the US. In the summer of 2020, despite the pandemic, Chris organized various outdoor guerilla shows in Brooklyn and formed a new band, Strictly Missionary. In 2021 and 2022 Chris is enjoying a busy touring schedule in Europe and the US. Other projects include the collaborative “Child of Illusion” with Susana Santos Silva and Torbjorn Zetterberg, and a trio with Luke Stewart and Jason Nazary. He has also worked with Wendy Eisenberg, Nate Wooley, Miya Masaoka, Paul Lytton, Peter Evans, Weasel Walter, Jaimie Branch, and Tyshawn Sorey.
Chris on BANDCAMP
“Throughout the record, the leader’s astonishingly fleet sax work – sometimes darting and soulful, sometimes squalling and unhinged – explodes with urgency and feverish invention.” —Hank Shteamer for Rolling Stone
“A persuasive combination of harmolodic jazz and contemporary noise rock.” —Downbeat
Collective imagination has always been the guiding force behind CP Unit’s music. Helmed by saxophonist & composer Chris Pitsiokos, structure and content are generated in real time, boldly and simultaneously showcasing principles of the individual and the aggregate. Pitsiokos’ accomplices are certainly fit for the challenge – guitarist Sam Lisabeth (Guerilla Toss), bassist Henry Fraser (Ryan Power, Brandon Seabrook), and drummer Jason Nazary (Jaimie Branch, Little Women) are all stalwarts who have helped shape the current landscape of NYC music. At times maniacal and ponderous, CP Unit’s music is in equal measure shocking and intuitive. Their result recalls aspects of noise rock, musique concrete, psychedelic rock, and Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic funk.
Chris Pitsiokos: alto saxophone, ewi, electronics
Sam Lisabeth: guitar
Henry Fraser: electric bass
Jason Nazary: drums, electronics
DUO WITH OTOMO YOSHIHIDE