2

Michael Musillami and Peter Madsen: Pictures

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
Michael Musillami and Peter Madsen: Pictures
Guitarist Michael Musillami and pianist Peter Madsen have long traveled in the same circles, with Musillami's Playscape label showcasing both musicians in a number of their independently derived projects. But they don't often get to work side-by-side. Aside from Musillami's sextet record, Dachau (Playscape, 2006), the two have only appeared together previously on duo disc, Part Pitbull (Playscape, 2002). Their scintillating renewed partnership on Pictures shows the intervening years have done nothing to diminish their intuitive chemistry and first-rate technical facility.

Both musicians thrive in larger contexts: witness Musillami's excellent quintet disc Life Anthem (Playscape, 2018) or Madsen's octet on Never Bet the Devil Your Head (Playscape, 2018). But as Musillami explains in the liner notes, the two have a shared fondness for the "immediacy and quick reaction time one can experience in a duo setting," and Pictures is certainly proof of that. Inspired loosely by Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, the album is essentially a set of nine tributes to musical figures whose influence has shaped the pianist and guitarist, and in between each is a short "promenade" that fosters continuing dialogue while also serving to smooth the transitions between tributes. With piano giants ranging from Cecil Taylor, Carla Bley and Randy Weston and guitar legends running the gamut through Jim Hall, John Abercrombie and Joe Diorio, the stylistic variety is extensive and those brief interludes to cleanse the palate, so to speak, are beneficial.

Projects of this nature can easily devolve into repertory exercises, but as was evident on Dig (Playscape, 2019), Musillami's Bill Evans tribute with bassist Rich Syracuse, the guitarist possesses far too much creativity to fall into slavish imitation. Nor does Madsen have any intention of simply reproducing the pianists honored here: while "Cecil Taylor" has a few Taylor-esque flourishes, and "Thelonious Monk" possesses a characteristically jaunty off-kilter vibe, there's nothing derivative about these pieces. Each does just enough to remind us of their inspiration, while providing moments for improvisation that are consistently inventive and expertly realized.

Moreover, one of the hallmarks of the recording is that some of each musician's standout moments occur when their "opposite" instrumentalist is being feted. Musillami's astonishingly fleet runs on "Cecil Taylor" are a case in point, as are Madsen's pace-setting bursts on "John Abercrombie." One senses the genuine debt felt by both musicians to all of these musical heroes, a debt that is repaid not with pastiche but with their ability to find their own personal resources from which to build on their legacy.

To hear two masters at work in this setting is a delight. One hopes we won't have to wait quite so long before they team up again.

Track Listing

Promenade One; Cecil Taylor; Promenade Two; Robert Paris; Promenade Three; Carla Bley; Promenade Four; John Abercrombie; Promenade Five; Thelonious Monk; Promenade Six; Joe Diorio; Promenade Seven; Dave Brubeck; Promenade Eight; Jim Hall; Promenade Nine; Randy Weston; Promenade Ten.

Personnel

Michael Musillami: guitar; Peter Madsen: piano.

Album information

Title: Pictures | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Read I Went This Way
I Went This Way
Rachel Musson
Read HH
HH
Lionel Loueke
Read Dominos
Dominos
Chuck Anderson
Read Secrets & Lies
Secrets & Lies
Jakko M. Jakszyk
Read Ceremonie / Musique
Ceremonie / Musique
What Happens In A Year

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.