Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

7

Michael McNeill Trio: Flight

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
On his second release as a leader Flight pianist Michael McNeill elegantly embellishes his own intricate compositions with bold spontaneity. He imbues the melodic elements of the album with subtle angularity and maintains a strong lyrical sense even while flirting with dissonance.

The contemplative "Za," for instance, has a crystalline harmonic structure within which McNeill has carefully woven silent pauses that enhance its intimacy. His sparse chiming keys and drummer Phil Haynes' low rumble support bassist Ken Filiano's eloquent and elegiac monologue. Out of this emerges McNeill's intriguing phraseology as the two musicians seamlessly swap places in the spotlight. Haynes ushers in the concluding bars with a sophisticated and rhythmically complex solo that enhances the overall introspective mood.

Strong western classical influences also permeate the various pieces. On the impressionistic "Picture Window" McNeill extemporizes with baroque flair as he runs through the scales adding clever twists and turns. Filiano's unaccompanied bowed lines, meanwhile, open the haunting "Skies" on a stately and melancholic note. Gradually, McNeill's tolling, resonant tones build an equally somber soliloquy.

The three-movement suite "Wild Geese" forms the conceptual fulcrum of the record. Dramatic and often solemn an otherworldly soundscape marks its first part. Manipulated instruments howl and honk like distressed birds of the title. Symphonic bursts, cascading piano and fragments of con arco bass punctuate this eerie sonic backdrop.

The second segment titled "Placid, Ruffled," is an ethereal tapestry of Filiano's warm, mellifluous bowing, McNeill's tense and unexpected bursts and Haynes' atmospheric thuds and thrums. McNeill's expressive pianism closes this part with captivating, percussive chords.

Haynes sets an exuberant ambience on "Wild Geese III: Follow Our Sun" with his dancing beats. Filliano's pizzicato strings hasten the tempo and set the stage for McNeill's ebullient, Caribbean flavored, improvisation. McNeill moves in tightening circles around the main theme as his band mates echo and propel his extemporization forward. A delightfully edgy and agile three-way conversation ensues that reaches a thrillingly virtuosic and evocative climax and then returns gracefully to the head.

With his sophomore effort McNeill has fulfilled the promise of his fascinating debut Passageways (Self Released, 2013). Flight retains the singularity of the first disc but adds to it an emotive maturity and a brilliantly cerebral approach. This results in a simultaneously innovative and accessible album.

Track Listing: Placid Ruffled; Za; Skies; No Dice; Picture Window; Land; Wild Geese Suite: Cloudburst, Placid Ruffled, Follow Our Sun; In That Number.

Personnel: Michael McNeill: piano; Ken Filiano: bass; Phil Haynes: drums.

Title: Flight | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Listen

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

No Dice

No Dice

Michael McNeill
Flight

I'm OK Now

I'm OK Now

Michael McNeill
Passageways

Album Reviews
Take Five With...
Read more articles
Flight

Flight

Self Produced
2015

buy
Passageways

Passageways

Self Produced
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read School of Fish Album Reviews
School of Fish
By Dan McClenaghan
March 23, 2019
Read Blood Album Reviews
Blood
By John Sharpe
March 23, 2019
Read Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley Album Reviews
Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley
By Jerome Wilson
March 23, 2019
Read Hydro 2 Album Reviews
Hydro 2
By Mark Corroto
March 23, 2019
Read Old School Revolution Album Reviews
Old School Revolution
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 23, 2019
Read Cuando Sea Necesario Album Reviews
Cuando Sea Necesario
By Dan McClenaghan
March 22, 2019
Read West 60th Album Reviews
West 60th
By Peter Hoetjes
March 22, 2019