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Michael Musillami Trio + 2: Life Anthem

Read "Life Anthem" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

One day in June 2016, guitarist Michael Musillami woke up with a massive headache. Tests soon revealed that he had a brain hemorrhage and also an unrelated brain tumour. He slowly recovered from his illnesses and is now in good health. Life Anthem is his musical testament to his ordeal, realized in this recording by his long-standing trio with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller plus guests Kirk Knuffke and Scott Robinson. The music, structured as a ...

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Michael Musillami: Life Anthem

Read "Life Anthem" reviewed by Troy Dostert

Guitarist Michael Musillami has been making music with his MM Trio since 2002, when he first teamed up with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller for Beijing (Playscape, 2003). Subsequent albums, all for the Playscape label Musillami founded and continues to run, have sometimes involved just the trio, while others have brought in guests--standout players such as Peter Madsen, Tom Christensen and Dave Ballou (on 2005's Dachau) and Marty Ehrlich, Ralph Alessi and Matt Moran (on 2009's From Seeds). ...

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Michael Musillami: Life Anthem

Read "Life Anthem" reviewed by Don Phipps

Dark, cerebral, moody, Michael Musillami's Life Anthem was inspired by his near-death experience from a brain hemorrhage and tumor. The music takes the listener on a journey from medical crisis to recovery. While the quality of abstract lyricism, improvisation, and musicianship cannot be denied, the music's harsh landscape proves at times frustrating and difficult to navigate. After 15 years of playing together, the talented Musillami and the rest of the trio (Joe Fonda on bass and George Schuller ...

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Michael Musillami/Rich Syracuse: Of The Night

Read "Of The Night" reviewed by Budd Kopman

For some reason, Wayne Shorter is in the air, as evidenced by pianist Denny Zeitlin's wonderful Early Wayne and now guitarist Michael Musillami's duo album with bassist Rich Syracuse, Of The Night. As stated in the earlier review, Shorter tunes, for the most part, are almost immediately recognizable as such without being able to be (accurately) sung. Shorter's melodic, harmonic and rhythmic choices create a Shorter style that is very strong without being easily definable. However, ...

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Michael Musillami/Rich Syracuse: Of The Night

Read "Of The Night" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

It would be hard to name an artist who has written more jazz standards than saxophonist Wayne Shorter, someone who has been penning memorable tunes since his days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the very early sixties. After his stint with Blakey, he contributed his singular song crafting acumen to Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet in the same decade, as well as recording numerous albums under his own name on Blue Note Records during that time. Now, the year ...

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Michael Musillami Trio: Pride

Read "Pride" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

With ten albums as a leader in his portfolio, guitarist and composer, Michael Musillami remains disproportionately under the radar in the public domain. Working in formats from duo to octet and inspired by classic artists like John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Musillami has a gifted touch for arranging the traditional and highly improvisational together in accessible ways. Pride features Musillami's decade-long established trio of bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, a rhythm section made for this kind of versatility.

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Michael Musillami: Old Tea

Read "Old Tea" reviewed by Lyn Horton

Guitarist Michael Musillami has seized onto the meaning of irreplaceable moments with Old Tea, dedicated to his 29-year-old son, who took his own life on March 10, 2009. In an extraordinarily touching story, Musillami's liner notes say what cannot be said musically. But the music, executed by his outstanding regular trio, expresses more than can be verbalized. Bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller take on Musillami's music with a sensitivity befitting the celebration of human life. ...

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Michael Musillami Trio: Old Tea

Read "Old Tea" reviewed by Nic Jones

Guitarist Michael Musillami composed the music for this program in the wake of his son Evan's death. The fact that it's measured and profoundly beautiful is testament to what music can do, and the fact that it's so superbly realized comes down to the fact that this trio is supremely empathetic. Five recordings to date are testament to why this is, and of these this is arguably the one that hits the spot most resoundingly.

Knowledge is sometimes a debilitating ...

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Michael Musillami: Old Tea

Read "Old Tea" reviewed by Troy Collins

In March 2009, guitarist Michael Musillami's son, Evan, took his own life at the age of 29. During the months that followed, Musillami composed a book of tunes inspired by and dedicated to Evan, which make up Old Tea, the fifth release from his veteran trio. Named after Lao Cha, a rare form of Taiwanese Oolong, Old Tea refers to a pastime Musillami and his son often enjoyed together--sharing a good cup of tea. Aided by the empathetic contributions of ...

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Michael Musillami Trio + 3: From Seeds

Read "From Seeds" reviewed by Lyn Horton

Following guitarist's Michael Musillami's The Treatment (Playscape, 2007), in which his trio featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller worked with violinist Mark Feldman, From Seeds weds his trio with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, alto saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and vibraphonist, Matt Moran. The definition between Musillami's core trio and the other trifecta is both magnified and stressed in all six of Musillami's compositions. The music is a complete interwoven strand, strengthened with instrumental lines that come together ...

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Michael Musillami Trio +3: From Seeds

Read "From Seeds" reviewed by Nic Jones

If there are inherent risks in tinkering with the tried and trusted then this release is a refutation of the idea. Guitarist Michael Musillami's trio, with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, is some seven years old and thus a thing of great musical closeness, but in this case a doubling in the size of the band results only in musical pleasures. That result is aided in no small part by the distinctiveness of Musillami's compositions, which are brought ...

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Michael Musillami Trio + 3: From Seeds

Read "From Seeds" reviewed by Troy Collins

2009 marks the ten year anniversary of guitarist Michael Musillami's Playscape Recordings. Since then Musillami has issued well over a dozen recordings as a leader supported by a variety of line-ups, with the long running trio of bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller being his most versatile group.

Magnanimous collaborators, the trio has often found itself accompanied by guest artists. Dachau (Playscape, 2005) included contributions from saxophonist Tom Christensen, trumpeter Dave Ballou, and pianist Peter Madsen, and ...