In the wake of its strong premiere effort, Beijing
(Playscape, 2000), the Michael Musillami Trio continues its globetrotting, turning to Germany for inspiration to produce its sophomore offering, Dachau
. While the opening "Dresden and the title piece itself conjure up some of the 20th century's worst horrors, the music is wonderfully uplifting and powerfully creative. Musillami's signature guitar sound, a mix of catchy odd-metered melodies with intriguing chords, dovetails remarkably with Joe Fonda's bass lines, while drummer George Schuller disdains genre to move from mainstream to free.
From the opening riff of "Dresden, which catches your ear with its inventive melody, to the beautifully put together closing "Metaphor 3.4.5, which has Fonda singing to his bass, there is no mistaking that this is a Musillami project. His knack for allowing a winning formula to develop is evident. Fonda's worldly experience is given ample room, as is Schuller's ability to segue stylistically. Pianist Peter Madsen augments the trio to a quartet to expand on both the frenetically driving "Part Pitbull, first heard on the Musillami/Madsen collaboration of the same name (Playscape, 2002) and construct a very reverential "Today the Angels that debuted on Op. Ed
The Musillami staple "Archives features reedmaster Tom Christensen, his tenor ably matching the inventively melodic guitar runs note for note, in addition to honking its own creative path. "Dachau finds Dave Ballou's trumpet joining the others for an extended and at times surprisingly warm take on its notorious namesake, while "Rottweil is portrayed as a particularly bluesy German city. This is expertly played music from a core trio of true professionals who gel exceedingly well.
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Personnel: Michael Musillami: guitar; Joe Fonda: bass; George Schuller: drums, bells, shaker, toy
hammer whistle; Peter Madsen: piano (3,4,6); Tom Christensen: tenor saxophone (2,3);
Dave Ballou: trumpet (3).