All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

212

Frank Macchia: Mo' Animals

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
I looked up "versatile in Webster's and there, believe it or not, was a picture of Frank Macchia. (No, not really, but there could have been.) On Mo' Animals, his graphic "tribute to all creatures big and small, Macchia plays no fewer than fourteen instruments (fifteen including synths) and handles drum programming when necessary. Oh, and he also composed and arranged the music, produced the album, and released it on his own label. For some reason known only to himself, Macchia invited a number of other musicians to take part, and they do their best to avoid stepping on his toes or raining on his parade. I suspect some overdubbing was involved, as even someone as resourceful as Macchia would have trouble playing so many instruments simultaneously (he plays half a dozen including synths on "Lions, as many as five on some other tracks).

Whether or not one can place the various animals with the music that depicts them, it's clear that Macchia has a solid game plan, one that is well executed by him and his stable (pardon the pun) of first-class sidemen. Some of the sounds they produce are straight from the barnyard, others from the jungles, prairies and seas that are the natural habitat of elephants, monkeys, rhinos, lions and whales. To do so, Macchia uses several instruments that aren't often heard, especially in a jazz context, such as the B-flat contrabass clarinet (quite effective on "Pigs ), electric bass clarinet ("Frogs ), bass ocarinas, bass saxophone, and contrabass flute and clarinet.

On the ethereal "Whales, Tracy London's diaphanous wordless vocal is supported solely by Macchia on bass ocarinas, bass and contrabass flutes, and synths. Pianist Billy Childs, bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta provide the rhythm on all selections save "Frogs and "Whales, with Childs featured most prominently on the supernal "Bats. "Elephants, Macchia writes, is his "homage to the brass voicing style created by Duke Ellington, and in that he is squarely on target.

While Macchia's concepts are picturesque and always interesting, the ensemble is necessarily dominant, with solos brief and subordinate for the most part. Macchia solos infrequently, although his mastery of the other instruments is indispensable. Other ad libbers include harmonica player Howard Levy ("Hummingbirds"), trombonist Bruce Fowler ("Frogs"), trumpeter Wayne Bergeron ("Elephants ) and Grant Geissman (electric guitar on "Frogs and "Rhinos," banjo on "Chickens ).

Musicianship aside, Macchia's resourcefulness and vision is what carries the day, as he gives the listener a jazz version of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals or Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, making his point without storyline or narration. The upshot is clearly off the beaten path but never less than engrossing.


Track Listing: Hummingbirds; Monkeys; Pigs; Bats; Frogs; Whales; Elephants; Chickens; Rhinos; Lions (66:19).

Personnel: Frank Macchia: soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass sax, clarinet, alto clarinet, B-flat contrabass clarinet, electric bass clarinet, bass ocarinas, flute, bass and contrabass flute, piccolo, synths, drum programming; Valerie King: flute, alto and bass flute (4); Wayne Bergeron (7,10), Larry Hall (10): trumpet; Bruce Fowler (5), Alex Iles (7, 10): trombone; Ken Kugler: bass trombone (3,9,10); Howard Levy: harmonica (1); Grant Geissman: electric guitar, banjo (3,5,8,9); Billy Childs: piano, synth accordion (1-4, 7-10); Dave Carpenter: bass (1-4, 7-10); Vinnie Colaiuta: drums (1-4, 7-10); Tracy London: voice (6).

Title: Mo' Animals | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: FMC

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

I'm So Damn Mad!

I'm So Damn Mad!

Frank Macchia
Grease Mechanix

Discombobulated

Discombobulated

Frank Macchia
Frank Macchia's Swamp Thang

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Frank Macchia
Son of Folk Songs for Jazzers

I've Been Working on the Railroad

I've Been Working on the Railroad

Frank Macchia
Folk Songs For Jazzers

Air Mail Special

Air Mail Special

Frank Macchia
Saxolollapalooza

Way Down Yonder In New Orleans

Way Down Yonder In New Orleans

Frank Macchia
Landscapes

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

Related Articles

Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Music in Motian CD/LP/Track Review
Music in Motian
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Descansado - Songs For Films CD/LP/Track Review
Descansado - Songs For Films
by John Ephland
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Simbiose CD/LP/Track Review
Simbiose
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 18, 2018
Read For Lew CD/LP/Track Review
For Lew
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "L.O.T.U.S." CD/LP/Track Review L.O.T.U.S.
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Serious Play" CD/LP/Track Review Serious Play
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Leading The British Invasion" CD/LP/Track Review Leading The British Invasion
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 30, 2017
Read "Polygon" CD/LP/Track Review Polygon
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Gnosis" CD/LP/Track Review Gnosis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Morphogenesis" CD/LP/Track Review Morphogenesis
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 12, 2017