Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

247

Misja Fitzgerald-Michel: Encounter

By

Sign in to view read count
Misja Fitzgerald-Michel plays guitar with an illuminating brilliance. On his third studio album, the 32-year-old lights the way through eleven numbers: five originals plus compositions by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane (two apiece), Wayne Shorter and Bill Stewart. That he chose no other guitarists' songs to cover says something about Fitzgerald-Michel's sense of exploration. He avoids the easy route.

The leader's trio with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jochen Rueckert expands to a quartet on two numbers with the addition of tenor saxman Ravi Coltrane. Another measure of Fitzgerald-Michel's sense of quiet daring is having Coltrane play on songs not written by his father, and inviting him to start things off, with Coleman's busy, polytonal, polyrhythmic—poly-everything—"Chopin."

The piece develops like a sheep-herding dog trying feverishly to rein in his flock, only to be chased by the rambunctious sheep; Coltrane's meaty tenor is the frantic dog. Fitzgerald-Michel's rising and falling runs, first echoing the sax, following then chasing, make for some dazzling, acrobatic duets with Coltrane. Gress and Rueckert join the fray as equals, sometimes running with the sheep, sometimes with the dog.

Fitzgerald-Michel's five compositions defy categorization, though his modern jazz roots run deep. In the French classical tradition, his music lies just behind a scrim. He hints at melody in two studies of serenity, "Another World and "Mirage, embracing harmonies that coalesce and quickly diverge. Gress and Rueckert ground the tunes with rhythms that can also wander freely. On "Mirage, Fitzgerald-Michel's spidery chords and single notes complement Rueckert's delicate brushwork, while Gress's bass bubbles gently underneath. I'm tempted to call this music lush, but its crystalline clarity suggests otherwise.

Listeners curious about Fitzgerald-Michel's musical pedigree will hear echoes of his mentor, Jim Hall, as well as Wes Montgomery, Russell Malone, and in his lightning runs on Coltrane's "Countdown (a Jackson Pollock painting for the ears), Tal Farlow. Fitzgerald-Michel's mastery of composition and arranging spring from the emotional freshness he brings to the music.

His arrangements resonate with possibility. On Wayne Shorter's "Limbo, the set's longest number at 6:30, Fitzgerald-Michel plays with a nuanced, gracious authority, creating beautiful, lyrical ideas that yield to Gress's catapulting, growling bass and Rueckert's tasteful, declarative bursts on the snare. With just two solo tunes, one a 51-second flurry that evokes Yes's Steve Howe, Fitzgerald-Michel demonstrates his fealty to the ensemble.

Track Listing: Chopin; What For?; Boundless; Mirage; Another World; Lonely Woman; Think Before You Think; Countdown; The Gathering; Limbo; Central Park West.

Personnel: Misja Fitzgerald-Michel: six and twelve-string electric and acoustic guitars; Drew Gress: bass; Jochen Rueckert: drums; Ravi Coltrane: tenor saxophone (1,9).

Title: Encounter | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Tempe Jetz" CD/LP/Track Review Tempe Jetz
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Sailors' Tales 1970-1972" CD/LP/Track Review Sailors' Tales 1970-1972
by John Kelman
Published: November 11, 2017
Read "Discussions" CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Happy Orchestra: Baba" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Orchestra: Baba
by Paul Rauch
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "The AV Club" CD/LP/Track Review The AV Club
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "This Is The Uplifting Part" CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017