Barney McAll: Flashbacks (2009)
The subtle synthesis of diverse influences into an original style is the hallmark of authentic artistry. Australian-born pianist Barney McAll, who has performed with artists as disparate as Groove Collective and Gary Bartz and absorbed the rhythms of Santeria on numerous trips to Cuba, achieves such a fusion on Flashbacks, leading a band featuring guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and percussionist Pedro Martinez, along with trombonist Josh Roseman, saxophonist Jay Rodriguez, bassists Drew Gress and Jonathan Maron, drummer Obed Calvaire and others.
The opening "Elegua Dictate" sets the general tone, with Martinez' bata drums laying down the rhythmic foundation upon which McAll's ethereal yet earthy piano and keyboards, the potent electric bass of Maron and soaring guitar of Rosenwinkel (the date's primary soloist), echo the spiritual mood of '70s Santana and Mahavishnu Orchestra John McLaughlin. The subsequent songs, with Gress on acoustic bass, range from the portentous yet pretty title track, the Iberian/North African ambiance of "End Of Things Start Of Things" (buttressed by Martinez' cajon) or swinging straight-ahead jazz on "New Eyes."
The reappearance of Maron on "Red and Black Shifts" returns the group to the opener's mood, this time with a wild rocking guitar solo on top of Calvaire's uninhibited drumming. The final three tracks, the melodically enjoyable "Circle Cycle" (dedicated to Gary Bartz and Billy Harper), a harmonically dissonant "Costello" (memorializing late Australian bassist Gary Costello) and the moody minimal "Ten Days Of Silence" (a trio effort with bassist Matt Pavolka and drummer George Schuller), further showcase McAll's compositional proficiency.
In his record release at New York's Jazz Standard (April 8, 2009) McAll's sextet, with only Roseman remaining from the CD, engaged in freewheeling interpretations of his original music. The group featured Billy Harper (tenor sax) and Ben Monder (guitar), anchored by the acoustic and electric basses of Matt Clohesy and drums of Henry Cole. While lacking the smooth cohesiveness and rhythmic diversity of the CD, the group played several songs from Flashbacks and one ("Abeokuta Suite") from 2006's Mother of Dreams and Secrets with passion and power.
Track Listing: Elegua Dictate; Flashback; End Of Things Start Of Things; New Eyes; Red And Black Shifts; Circle Cycle; Costello; Ten Days Of Silence.
Personnel: Barney McAll: piano, chucky, keyboards; Jay Rodriguez: tenor sax (1- 4, 6); Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar (1-7); Josh Roseman: trombone (1-4, 6); Drew Gress: bass (2-4, 6, 7); Jonathan Maron: electric bass (1, 5); Mat Palvoka: bass (8); Obed Calvaire: drums (1-7); George Schuller: drums (8); Pedrito Martinez: bata, percussion (1, 3-5); Tiger Rex: alto sax (7).