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Having performed music throughout his entire career that started in his teensand mostly in his native Australian continent in conjunction with singer Vince Joneskeyboardist Barney McAll has absorbed numerous influences to develop his own style. Now at the age of thirty-threeand “Thirty Three” happens to be the title of the first track on Release The Day McAll has blended on this CD all of those world-music styles into a synthesis that consistently promotes the spiritual feel of the music.
The spirituality of McAll’s music is evident immediately even on the first track, which McAll dedicates to the Orisha “Elegua,” who “opens all doors.” Seemingly curious about all cultures and delving into numerous religions, McAll’s performance in Havana in 1996 must have been a life-altering experience. Having met Chucho Valdés and Ramon Valle there, McAll immersed himself in the Santería religion, and the results have become a permanent component of his music. One would expect McAll to present his technical skills on his premier Transparent Music CD, but Release The Day instead establishes an inspiring ambience on all of the tracks.
For instance, “Thirty Three” overlays the horns’ long tones over the reassuring and repetitive 6/8 percussiveness established by drummer Joey Baron, bassist Tony Scherr and percussionist Eddie Bobe. McAll, the composer of all of the tunes on Release The Day, fades into a coloristic role, splashing chiming accents here or sustained chords there. Rather than McAll, the real voice of “Thirty Three” is McAll’s mentor, Gary Bartz, who heightens the underlying tension of the song with a controlled frenzy, quoting “My One And Only Love” and converting a solo into a beseeching.
“Obatala” is just as concerned with Santerían respect and worship, as McAll dedicates this tune to yet another Orisha. Its African texture, with its irregular metrical patterns and yet its cyclic nature, is reminiscent of some of Randy Weston’s work. Thus, it refers to the Yoruban integration of music with daily living that ultimately formed the basis for the Cuban religion as well.
But Cuban music derived from the Santerían spirits comprises just two of the references to the whole of McAll’s concept. “Tanzanian Folk Melody,” which features Jay Rodriguez’ evocative flute work and a call-and-response structure, developed from an East African field recording that McAll heard. “Chaos Lento” involves a non-metrical, and even ethereal, theme as guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel creates the circular pattern embellished by Baron’s subtle shimmers and rumbles for an atmospheric piece of Asian origin. On the other hand, McAll brings in allusions to blues sensibilities on “Release The Day,” as he switches to the organ and as the ensemble creates a sway that’s almost R&B in the irresistibility of its feel.
Yet, McAll delivers the final track, “Daria,” as a halting, New Age-like solo performance that one expects to beckon the sounds of nature, like bird calls and the shore-line crashing of ocean waves. Meditative in nature, “Daria” concludes the album with upper-register ringing and metrical abandonment for a solitary consideration of the universality of the music and the human soul’s connection to it.
Track Listing: Thirty Three, Reciprocal Night, Obatala, Chaos Lento, Release The Day, No Go Die, Tanzanian Folk Melody, Daria
Personnel: Barney McAll, piano, celeste, B-3 organ; Peter Apfelbaum, tenor sax; Gary Bartz, alto sax; Jay Rodriguez, Bansuri flute & gaitas, Fabio Morgera, trumpet; Clark Gayton, trombone; Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar; Tony Scherr, Johannes Wiedenmuller, bass; Joey Baron, Kenny Wollesen, drums, Eddie Bobe, percussion; Julie Patton, voice