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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Musillami Trio + 2: Life Anthem

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Musillami: Life Anthem

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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). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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It isn't essential to be a fan of Edgar Allen Poe's uncanny writings to enjoy pianist Peter Madsen's musical tribute to the author, Never Bet the Devil Your Head. But readers familiar with Poe's disturbing fiction will absolutely appreciate the thoughtful touches found in abundance on Madsen's album. With the help of the Seven Sins Ensemble, an Austria-based octet Madsen first utilized on 2012's Gravity of Love (also on Playscape) that includes a string quartet in addition to standard jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Musillami: Life Anthem

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Close study of the only existing daguerréotype of American author Edgar Allan Poe (1809--1849) reveals that he bore an extraordinary resemblance to British comedian John Cleese on a bad hair day. Could this be why, despite his many accomplishments, the modern world has trouble taking Poe seriously? Jazz pianist/composer Peter Madsen has no such problems. With this album he revisits a lifelong fascination with Poe and his gothic horror stories. Madsen explains, “Before composing ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Based on pianist/composer/bandleader Peter Madsen's extensive CV: Stan Getz, Stanley Turrentine, Dewey Redman, Benny Golson, Don Cherry, Kenny Garrett, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Maceo Parker, Bill Frisell, John Abercombie and the Mingus Big Band, it's not surprising and often brilliant that on his eighth release for Playscape, Madsen exhibits a nearly prog-rock, anything goes flair on Never Bet the Devil Your Head. Inspired by reading a different Edgar Allan Poe story before sitting down and composing, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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An album like Never Bet The Devil Your Head is meant for one thing--to get inside your head! And it succeeds admirably. Composer and pianist Peter Madsen's inspiration for the music came from several literary masterpieces by the master storyteller and poet Edgar Allen Poe, and each piece is titled after a Poe story or poem. Like Poe's strange and foreboding tales, these musical tales are equally strange and foreboding--but with whimsy, beauty, and a touch of the macabre.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen's Seven Sins Ensemble: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Pianist Peter Madsen has come up with a novel idea for a jazz record: A Tribute to Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), America's founding father of macabre/horror fiction. Bringing together a jazz quartet--piano/bass/drums/trumpet--and a string quartet, Madsen and his Seven Sins Ensemble capture the moods and atmospheres of some of the author's better-known tales on Never Bet The Devil You Head. Madsen's translation of Poe's most famous poem, “The Raven," sets the stage for the program. The string quartet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mario Pavone Dialect Trio: Chrome

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Piano trios seeking a level of parity of instrumental input are common. Those who achieve a high level of piano/bass/drums democracy develop a group sound born of a melding of musical personalities. With strong personalities all around--as on the Mario Pavone Dialect Trio--a beautiful tumult is born. Chrome is bassist Pavone's second Dialect Trio release, following 2015's Blue Dialect (Playscape Recordings). A big part of the allure of Chrome is the head-bumping and elbow throwing between the three ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn

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The true beauty and utility of the Great American Songbook is the durability of the music in response to interpretation, often jarring and drastic. French pianist Martial Solal made a master's class of demonstrating the music's vitality on his uniformly excellent Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love (CAM Jazz, 2009). On that recording, Solal so deliberately and completely deconstructed Tin Pan Alley, that he created a new lens through which to pass these old ...