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 Oscar Peterson Plays CD/LP/Track Review
Oscar Peterson Plays
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 23, 2018
Read State Of The Baritone Volume 2 CD/LP/Track Review
State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one) CD/LP/Track Review
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume one)
by Chris May
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Friends & Family CD/LP/Track Review
Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018
Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "Ten Billion Versions of Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Ten Billion Versions of Reality
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Use Your Imagination" CD/LP/Track Review Use Your Imagination
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 21, 2017
Read "Organ Monk Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk Blue
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 13, 2018
Read "Atlantic Bridge" CD/LP/Track Review Atlantic Bridge
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Instrumental" CD/LP/Track Review Instrumental
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 10, 2017