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...

3

Michael McNeill Trio: Passageways

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
The rhythm trio is a well-established and ubiquitous format in jazz. Its fluidity and flexibility allow for a wide range of expression from traditional to advanced with the majority of recordings being solidly in the mainstream. Pianist Michael McNeill's exhilarating and innovative debut recording Passageways pushes the harmonic boundaries of the ensemble into unique and intriguing territories.

The classically trained Buffalo native leads his intimate group through five of his own originals that allow ample room for spontaneous creativity. "Prelude-Metropolis" for instance, opens with McNeill's unaccompanied, modernistic and sparse, sonata that climaxes into an impromptu burst of note clusters before it ebbs into carefully placed chimes that echo in silence. The entry of the other instruments, a delightfully dissonant pizzicato double-bass and edgy, polyrhythmic drums, add a dramatic atonality to the composition.

This motif of subtle theatricality runs through the record. On "Nobody's Waltz" the abstract, three-way conversation builds into an introspective interlude. McNeill's gently percussive keys, bassist Ken Filiano's stimulating arco drone and drummer Phil Haynes' crashing cymbals fill the silence with stimulating sonance.

Filliano's baroque-esque bowed strings have a wistful melodicism, as he flirts with the avant-garde on "Hold On," the longest track, comprising almost half of the album. McNeill's free-flowing piano carries a certain intelligent mystique, as its percolating lines echo against Filliano's carefully scattered strings and Haynes' delightfully eccentric thrums and beats. The tune evolves into a more conventional boppish workout that nevertheless maintains a healthy angularity.

Haynes' vaguely eastern solo, with its thunderous barrage of alternating trap and bass drums, ushers in an expectant mood on "Exit Now." His subsequent, bright cymbal taps; McNeill's cascading tones and Filliano's passionately lilting improvisation innovatively deconstruct this contemplative and thrilling piece, bringing it to a bracing conclusion.

The camaraderie among the band mates, however, is best heard on "I'm OK Now"'s collective extemporization. The melancholic song shimmers with muted hues as the musicians weave an elegant and poetic nocturne.

With PassagewaysMcNeill has burst on the modern music scene as an exciting and ingenious composer and improviser. His more seasoned associates, far from overshadowing him, enhance his singular vision. Hopefully this gem of a disc will serve as an introduction to a luminous career.

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

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

No Dice

No Dice

Michael McNeill
Flight

I'm OK Now

I'm OK Now

Michael McNeill
Passageways

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

Flight

Self Produced
2015

buy
Passageways

Passageways

Self Produced
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Uplift The People CD/LP/Track Review
Uplift The People
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read A New Shade Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review
A New Shade Of Blue
by Chris May
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Rabbits on the Run CD/LP/Track Review
Rabbits on the Run
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Imaginary Numbers CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Numbers
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Point Blank CD/LP/Track Review
Point Blank
by Chris May
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Tell Me The Truth CD/LP/Track Review
Tell Me The Truth
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 20, 2018
Read "Avant-Garde Party Music" CD/LP/Track Review Avant-Garde Party Music
by John Sharpe
Published: January 1, 2018
Read "Returnings" CD/LP/Track Review Returnings
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 13, 2018
Read "D'Agala" CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by John Sharpe
Published: January 28, 2018
Read "Cuban Nocturne" CD/LP/Track Review Cuban Nocturne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 7, 2017
Read "Combsy" CD/LP/Track Review Combsy
by Doug Collette
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Parting Is" CD/LP/Track Review Parting Is
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 14, 2018