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The Michael O'Neill Quartet: And Then It Rained


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The Michael O'Neill Quartet: And Then It Rained
San Francisco area-based reedman Michael O'Neill, noted most prominently for his work with vocalist Kenny Washington, takes his artistry on a new tangent with And Then It Rained. The set features a top-tier Bay Area quartet which digs deep into a set of O'Neill originals. Recording-wise, this is new territory for O'Neill, who, in addition to his work with Washington and singer Tony Lindsay, writes music for corporate and industrial films, documentaries and television.

Early in his career, O'Neill studied with saxophonist Joe Henderson and it shows on And Then It Rained, not so much in the tenor tone—O'Neill also plays soprano and alto saxophones and clarinet here—but in the deft construction and sequencing of a batch of strong compelling compositions with a cohesive mood, in spite of an array of stylistic differences. Opening with "Port Of Spain," written originally for steel pans, but laid down with O'Neill's tangy soprano sax here, the tune is a perfect, saucy introduction to the quartet, featuring pianist Michael Bluestein, bassist Dan Feiszli and drummer Jason Lewis. It is a sound which conjures images of women in tight dresses doing their joyful and slinky dance in the tropical night.

O'Neill switches to tenor sax on "Emerging Impressions," a melancholy ballad featuring the leader's robust but smooth tone, and the prettiest of piano solos from Bluestein. "Early Spring" came out of O'Neill studies of pianist Bill Evans' "Very Early," and glows with vibrancy, optimism and positivity of the season.

O'Neill grew up in the San Diego area, where surfing is part of the scene. His "Maverick's Samba" was written for one of Northern California's more challenging—dangerous when the swell is up—surf spots, Maverick's, near Half Moon Bay. He likens surfing to working with a jazz rhythm section, riding the flow in a creative and reactive fashion, ready for the unexpected every second of the ride.

O'Neill and company close the show with "The Dreams We left Behind," with the leader sounding a bit like Ben Webster on this beautiful and wistful ballad, a tip of the hat to the fact that "there's never enough time to do it all."


Album information

Title: And Then It Rained | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Jazzmo Records

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