6

Michael McNeill Trio: Passageways

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Michael McNeill's debut as a leader introduces a fresh perspective to the popular piano trio format. His compositions don't progress in a linear manner, nor do they strive to settle on time-tested harmonic or rhythmic structures; instead, they insistently explore the sonic possibilities within the immediate, fragile and equal interplay that the Buffalo, NY-based pianist-composer has with his improvisation-experienced trio mates, double bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Phil Haynes.

McNeill has a mature, personal voice, developed through a wide range of experiences, including with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson alumnus, baritone saxophonist Bruce Johnstone, and crossover ensembles led by percussionist Ravi Padmanabha. His compositions apply open-ended, jazz-based improvisational techniques to the format of the Indian raga. After sketching the skeletal lines of a composition, the trio patiently explores its various aspects both simultaneously and separately, until reaching a common climax.

The twenty-minute opening, "Hold On," stresses this approach. Filiano creates tense interplay with his confident, reserved arco work, amidst fractured rhythmic patterns and spare piano lines. Later, McNeill lessens this tension with an impressionistic solo that is transformed into a conventional yet fiery trio improvisation with a clear chord progression that concludes when Filiano, once again, leads with arco solo.

"Nobody's Waltz," "Prelude—Metropolis" and "Exit Now" have even looser structures, their progression shifting according to the immediate articulations of all three musicians without an attempt to tie them into any obvious pattern. This approach demand fast thinking and a rich musical language that allows the trio to color the material with imagination and passion, encompassing these free form abstractions within a cohesive envelope. Only the closing "I'm OK Now" follows a touching melodic theme, delivered in a beautiful and elegant manner.

McNeill is an exceptional composer and player, with a debut that sets a high standard for those yet to come.

Track Listing: Hold On; Nobody's Waltz; Prelude - Metropolis; Exit Now; I'm OK Now.

Personnel: Michael McNeill: piano; Ken Filiano: bass; Phil Haynes: drums.

Title: Passageways | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Scratches Of Spain" CD/LP/Track Review Scratches Of Spain
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Shipwreck 4" CD/LP/Track Review Shipwreck 4
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "Parts Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review Parts Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Time Being" CD/LP/Track Review Time Being
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Constant Change 1976-2016" CD/LP/Track Review Constant Change 1976-2016
by John Sharpe
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "From the Heart" CD/LP/Track Review From the Heart
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 20, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.