Michael Musillami: Groove Teacher
The third record in guitarist Michael Musillami's trilogy of early '90s recordings offers more of his original compositions, and more intuitive interplay by his tight-knit musical community. Much of the energy on this septet record sparks from Musillami's axe, yet the other players mostly avoid any kind of fixed roles. In general, the compositions tend toward upbeat, swinging numbers with nods to funk and Latin rhythms, as well as the usual straight-ahead stuff. Musillami and pianist Kent Hewitt respect the common ground of harmonic definition, each player alternately comping and laying out.
Groove Teacher offers a somewhat self-promotional title, yet Musillami's group prefers more of a collective cohesion than a student-like submission to his leadership. In general, these players are indeed his equal. Trumpeter Claudio Roditi offers some poignant lines; and saxophone/flautist Thomas Chapin manages a diverse style of play without stealing the spotlight. Occasional dips into the cheese (as on "Open Ended") leave the listener a bit short. But overall, Groove Teacher is a fine effortand a worthy delayed release documenting Musillami's development as composer and musician.
Track Listing: Seven Blend; The Gift; Open Ended; Off the Glass; Groove Teacher; Today the Angels Cry; Keko Smile; Big Ears and the Blues; Peninsula.
Personnel: Michael Musillami: guitar; Thomas Chapin: alto saxophone and flute; Claudio Roditi: trumpet; Ralph Moore: tenor saxophone; Kent Hewitt: piano; Charles (Chip) Jackson: bass; Steve Johns: drums.