256

Mark O'Leary: Two Avant-Fusion Guitar Trios

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
The prolific Irish guitarist Mark O'Leary likes to position himself in challenging musical outfits, usually trios, that discourage facile characterizations and expectations. The two trios featured on Ellipses and Signs highlight his avant-fusion approach. O'Leary says he's influenced by diverse sources ranging from avant-garde modern composers like Karl Heinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis to forward thinking sound sculptors like David Torn and Fennesz. But even if you can locate where his musical ideas stem from, it is always a surprise to follow their transformations into bold finished statements.

Mark O'Leary
Ellipses
FMR
2008



This trio brings O'Leary together with Norwegian keyboard wizard Stole Storlokken, a member of free-improv quartet Supersilent and fusion outfit Elephant9, and Chicagoan drummer John Herndon, a member of Ken Vandermark's Powerhouse Sound and Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra, who has collaborated before with O'Leary on Radio Free Europe (Leo Records, 2007). This undated recording pays its dues to the effects-laden brew of fusion and progressive rock of the 1970s. Storlokken's vintage synth walls merge with O'Leary's flat-toned guitar and electronics, and Herndon's fractured grooves, to form intense and often dark textures that sound influenced by Terje Rypdal's and Steve Hillage's atmospheric guitar heroics of that era, especially on the title track and on the free-form "Maskerade."

The last and longest piece, "Theme from Jack Johnson," is a tribute to the famous Miles Davis composition from the trumpeter's 1970s funky electric-fusion outings. But like the former pieces, all credited to all three players, it does not attempt to reconstruct that decade's sound or to follow the genre, but instead to use it as a springboard for an adventurous improvised meeting. The outcome is epic and captivating. The trio produce their own trademark sound, and an impressive camaraderie that charges the music with intensity, surprise and uncompromised determination to explore new terrains.

Mark O'Leary
Signs
FMR
2007

The trio with West Coast 6-string electric contrabass player Steuart Leibig and drummer Alex Cline is also rooted in 1970s fusion, but this Californian session from October, 2003 is much more jazz-oriented and all the pieces are composed by O'Leary. Unlike the improvised collective session Ellipses, this one highlights O'Leary's distinctive guitar sound and his role as a leader, while Leibig and Cline supply him with an elastic and solid base for his solos. And if Ellipses suggests sound that paid its dues to Terje Rypdal, this session offers influences from 1970s releases by other ECM guitarists like Bill Connors, David Torn and the young Pat Metheny.

O'Leary alternates between searching and free-flowing solos, as on the opening piece "Tilt," to more dreamy and meditative soundscapes, as on "Falling," "Want to Know a Secret" and the eerie closing piece "Headphase," to blazing and dense eruptions, as on the brief "Skrakk" and "Bye for a While". The title piece features the trio at its best, with all three contributing equally to the close and slow burning interplay. The disc presents O'Leary as an imaginative musician who is developing a unique voice.


Tracks and Personnel

Ellipses

Tracks: Ellipses; Maskerade; Theme from Jack Johnson.

Personnel: Mark O'Leary: guitar, electronics; John Herndon: drums; Stole Storlokken: synths, samples.

Signs

Tracks: Tilt; Falling; Skrakk; Signs; Want To Know A Secret; Bye For A While; Headphase.

Personnel: Mark O'Leary: guitar; Steuart Leibig: 6-string electric bass; Alex Cline: drums, percussion.

Tags

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.

Waves

Waves

Mark O'Leary
Waves III

Theme From  Waiting

Theme From Waiting

Mark O'Leary
Live In Istanbul

Obsession

Obsession

Mark O'Leary
Snow

Album Reviews
In the Artist's Own Words
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
 

Waves III

W.E.R.F.
2011

buy
 

Støj

W.E.R.F.
2011

buy
Stoj

Stoj

Ayler Records
2011

buy
 

Snow

W.E.R.F.
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Peter Lewis And Peter Perrett: Sleeper LP's of 2019 Multiple Reviews
Peter Lewis And Peter Perrett: Sleeper LP's of 2019
By Doug Collette
July 20, 2019
Read Dan Phillips He's Back And He's Proud Multiple Reviews
Dan Phillips He's Back And He's Proud
By Mark Corroto
July 18, 2019
Read 3x3: Piano Trios: July 2019 Multiple Reviews
3x3: Piano Trios: July 2019
By Geno Thackara
July 16, 2019
Read Two From The Giant Step Arts Label Multiple Reviews
Two From The Giant Step Arts Label
By Jerome Wilson
July 15, 2019
Read Living for a Song: Country Singers and Songwriters on BGO Multiple Reviews
Living for a Song: Country Singers and Songwriters on BGO
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 14, 2019
Read International Anthem: The Beat of the Past, Present and Future Multiple Reviews
International Anthem: The Beat of the Past, Present and Future
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 4, 2019
Read Samo Salamon: Three At Once (Freequestra, Trio, & Rotten Girlz) Multiple Reviews
Samo Salamon: Three At Once (Freequestra, Trio, & Rotten Girlz)
By Mark Sullivan
July 3, 2019