7

Michael McNeill Trio: Flight

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Michael McNeill Trio: Flight 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.

Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Rotterdam 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Rotterdam 1969
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "Dream Keeper" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Keeper
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 27, 2016
Read "Beginning of A Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Beginning of A Memory
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 15, 2016
Read "Punch" CD/LP/Track Review Punch
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!