Guitars: Michael Musillami, Threedom & Tom Guarna

Jim Santella By

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Michael Musillami's Dialect
Fragile Forms
Playscape Recordings

Clairvoyant Avenue
Bella Firenze Musica

Tom Guarna
Out from the Underground

Three guitarists lead stellar ensembles on these interesting releases and share a fluid and lyrical manner on their instruments; however, their bandmembers ensure that each unit remains unique and memorable

Guitarist Michael Musillami's Dialect, a modern mainstream quartet featuring pianist Peter Madsen, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Matt Wilson, interprets eight of the leader's compositions on the riveting Fragile Forms. These four veterans push with the drive and energy of a foursome searching for new and better ways to have their say. One piece becomes a slow, mournful ballad, while another drives helter-skelter in a panic of power. "Discreet Plucking resembles a Mingus get-together where everyone perches on the edge of his seat. "Ernie the Neck , an up-tempo romp with lower register swing, is named for the composer's pet dog. "Brooms , which charges full steam ahead, is called after the drummer's wire brushes. The title track employs a motion that darts quickly and forcefully in several directions at once. Musillami's guitar captures a sweet fragrance that underscores melody and harmony from one who appreciates these elements. Madsen contrasts the leader's lyricism with percussive power and a muscular format. Gress and Wilson carry their share of the rhythmic load while adding multiple textures to enhance each impression. Recommended for its spontaneity and swing in modern surroundings, Fragile Forms brings us plenty to digest and a large assortment of vibrant ideas to enjoy.

Led by veteran New York guitarist Joe Giglio, Threedom delights in working without a script. Featuring three of the trio's compositions plus four spontaneous works of free jazz, Clairvoyant Avenue finds musical ideas passed around the room with natural ease. Bassist David Shaich and drummer Tyrone Govan share solo space graciously with Giglio, providing the album with a three-way conversation that comes filled with variety. The guitarist brings a lyrical charm to his work as he swings casually with elegance and grace. Giglio finds opportunities for adventure with just about every path that the trio takes. "X-Tempr-Eyes , a free jazz piece with strong funk underpinnings, lets the trio turn it loose, as they weave elements of samba and bebop into their experiment. "Can't Get Startled (based on the chord changes to "I Can't Get Started ) reveals Giglio's heartfelt ballad chops, while several other selections drive with dramatic tension. "Ty's Rise features a contemporary look at "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise with a funk-driven pulse that pushes hard. Threedom offers a welcome combination of free spontaneity and jazz' firm foundation.

Guitarist Tom Guarna interprets eight originals on Out from the Underground with cohesive support from a quartet of pianist George Colligan, bassist John Benitez and drummer EJ Strickland. Fender Rhodes colors most selections with its unique timbre and light carriage. Guarna's guitar brings a mellow approach to the session, merging with his sidemen in a legato affair that finds lyrical space everywhere. Guarna toured with Blood, Sweat and Tears from 1995-99 and recorded with singer David Clayton-Thomas and the same kind of melody that makes popular music linger in your mind shows up on this, Guarna's second album as leader. "If We Meet Again features a lovely ballad texture that moves cool and slow along a traditional path of fragrant melody. "Two If By Sea brings a blues-like demeanor. Both songs stand out as the session's best. Elsewhere, the mood shifts comfortably between smooth and mellow. Guarna enjoys his lyrical ride on this album of sweet delights.

Tracks and Personnel

Fragile Forms

Tracks: Seven Blend; Brooms; Discreet Plucking; Emmett Spencer; Ernie the Neck; Robmac; Fragile Forms; Beijing.

Personnel: Michael Musillami: guitar; Peter Madsen: piano; Drew Gress: double bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

Clairvoyant Avenue

Tracks: Shaich 'em Dave; Morning People!; Can't Get Startled; X-Tempr-Eyes; Beppe's Bop-Be; Ty's Rise; 4ths for Bridge.

Personnel: Joe Giglio: guitar; David Shaich: double bass; Tyrone Govan: drums.

Out from the Underground

Tracks: Old Lady; Reunion; Out from the Underground; If We Meet Again; I Can Hear Your Eyes; Two if by Sea; C's Blues; I Remember.

Personnel: Tom Guarna: guitar; George Colligan: piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano; John Benitez: double bass; E.J. Strickland: drums.


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