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Jim McNeely, Kelly Sill and Joel Spencer are three old friends who have played together on occasion over the decades but never recorded as a trio until now. Although Boneyard refers to a creek in Champaign, Ill., it might conjure thoughts of overly familiar standards and jazz compositions as performed on many releases. But this trio avoids common paths by disguising introductions, inserting catchy vamps and chord changes in their offbeat approaches to popular songs.
While the piano is usually the center of attention in a trio setting with bass and drums, McNeely shares the spotlight with bassist Sill, with drummer Spencer preferring more of a background role. They come out blazing with a very unusual interpretation of "Speak Low that utilizes Latin rhythm and adds vamps at regular intervals, with McNeely maintaining it for Spencer's solo. Likewise, Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma and Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way are stunningly recast. McNeely's two originals include the swirling post-bop vehicle "For Manny and the hustling "Ernie Banks (honoring the longtime all-star who played his entire career with the Chicago Cubs). Sill's two pieces, the understated "A Sense of Fairness and the glistening ballad "Naomi, also earn high marks. A remarkable CD too long in coming.
Track Listing: Speak Low; Con Alma; In Your Own Sweet Way; For Manny; Fe Fi Fo Fum; A Sense of Fairness; Naomi; Ernie Banks; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.
Personnel: Jim McNeely: piano; Kelly Sill: bass; Joel Spencer: drums.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...