Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

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

More Articles

Read Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 12, 2017
Read Jazz from the US Virgin Islands' new breed Multiple Reviews Jazz from the US Virgin Islands' new breed
by Nigel Campbell
Published: November 4, 2017
Read Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles Multiple Reviews Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 2, 2017
Read Abbey Rader in the Spotlight: Ritual and Phenobarbital Sessions Multiple Reviews Abbey Rader in the Spotlight: Ritual and Phenobarbital...
by Kevin Press
Published: October 27, 2017
Read Two Sides of John Wetton Multiple Reviews Two Sides of John Wetton
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago" Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain" Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman Makes It Rain
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "New and Notable Releases" Multiple Reviews New and Notable Releases
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August Rosenbaum" Multiple Reviews The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…" Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Psalms and Poetry: Den Danske Salmeduo and Nicolai Munch-Hansen" Multiple Reviews Psalms and Poetry: Den Danske Salmeduo and Nicolai...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 2, 2016

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!

Please support out sponsor