A decade after recording his first record of original compositions, guitarist Michael Musillami's early work finally sees the light of day. The tunes on Archives
obey a more rigid and static rhythmic order than the material that followed. The rhythm section, while coloring the foundations with a constant effusion of personality, mostly proceeds in lock-step.
Against this backdrop, the work of primary soloists Musillami and the late Thomas Chapin acquires a contrasting glow. Chapin's unique sense of twist and flow indeed elevates Archives to a higher level. Musillami appears mostly content to interact as an equal in this quintet, though his virtuosity and versatility set him apart from the crop of guitarists working in traditional jazz idioms. In particular, his ironic constant toying with rhythm as a soloist make his playing all that much more interesting.
The overall unrelenting swing of these compositions may offer special appeal for many jazz listeners, but this one prefers a bit more of the unexpected and irreverent. (And I could do without numbers like "I Still Do It for the Music," which employs a few too many cliches.) But these are high standards to apply to a musician's first release as a compositional leaderand they are increasingly met by Musillami's later work.
Personnel: Michael Musillami: guitar; Thomas Chapin: alto saxophone, flute; Kent Hewitt: piano; Nat Reeves: bass; Steve Johns: drums.