Michael Musillami Trio + 3: From Seeds (2009)
Musillami has also written a set of six compositions specifically for this group format. These players are not only able to maneuver the tricky ins and outs of these pieces but also seem to be genuinely inspired by them. "Splayed Fingers" may get its name from the spidery line bassist Fonda plays on the intro to the tune, a descending walking bass line that bounces all over on its downward tumbling path, but could also refer to the theme, figures that twist and turn, rise and fall, dovetail and burst apart in unexpected ways.
It's a bit of complexity that sounds like it was hell to master but once under the belt a hell of a lot of fun to play. Musillami makes some unexpected soloing assignments such as featuring Alessi on "Wisteria Hysteria Blues." Although not a blues-inflected trumpeter, his solo on this track, with its fluttering acrobatic phrases, makes this an inspired choice. And throughout, the core trio functions as a modern rhythm section should, almost telepathically shifting tempos, driving soloists, creating the space to support the added heft in the frontline. As much as any of their trio dates, From Seeds shows Musillami, Fonda and Schuller to be one of the finest working units in jazz today, with or without the "+3."
Track Listing: Splayed Fingers; Ga-Ga-Goosebumps; From Seeds; Wisteria Hysteria Blues; Graphite; Bill Barron.
Personnel: Michael Musillam: guitar; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone; Matt Moran: vibes; Joe Fonda: bass; George Schuller: drums.
Record Label: Playscape Recordings
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde