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...

47

Michael Musillami Trio: Pride

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Having worked earlier in his career with bassist Mario Pavone and the late saxophonist Thomas Chapin, Musillami has at various times augmented his ongoing trio with trumpeter Dave Ballou, saxophonist Tom Christensen and pianist Peter Madsen who has also worked in a duo with the guitarist. The remarkable pianist Kris Davis and saxophonist Jimmy Greene add their considerable talents to the first disc of the collection. Violinist Mark Feldman—another past Musillami collaborated—contributes significantly to the second Pride disc in the two CD set.

Musillami offers a number of previously recorded studio pieces in enhanced form on disc 1 and in a live venue on disc 2 and in every case his arrangements and improvisational contributions of the group breathe new life into the compositions. "Uncle Fino's Garden" opens disc one with Musillami's shimmering chords vibrating with a light touch and followed by a more intricate pattern of single notes. It sets up Davis' tossing much of the melody aside and reorienting the sound to the point that only a complete stop allows Musillami to reclaim the lead. "Bald Yet Hip (Intro)," with an excellent solo from Fonda, and the subsequent main piece demonstrate why Davis is one of the most in-demand musicians of recent years. She takes the piece from lyrical to abstract and back in a seamless transformation of performances.

There is plenty of engaging interplay between Greene and Musillami on "Courageous David B.," one of Greene's two appearances on Pride. In both cases Greene takes the tenor through its full range while Musillami loosely anchors the melody. "Mountain Pride" is a showcase for Musillami's musical inventiveness and tonal subtlety. "Wild Things Music," the four-song commissioned suite that wraps up disc 1, is based on Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. Musillami opens the section up to a more electric and hard-edged sound appropriate to the adventurous nature its origins.

On disc 2—recorded live at the Firehouse in New Haven, Connecticut—Feldman's presence adds an element distinctly different from the previous disc. On "Swedish Fish" he offers an alternative take on the studio version which originally featured a relatively abbreviated contribution from Pavone Pivot (CD Baby, 2002). Feldman adds a unique hybrid of European chamber jazz and western swing that completely changes the dynamics of the group. "Beijing"—the title track of a previous Musillami trio outing (Playscape Recordings, 2002) similarly embellishes the original. Feldman imparts just the right tone for the piece with a very slight Asian flavor complimented by Musillami approximating a Chinese pipa to further the effect.

Clocking in at well over two hours, Pride is an entirely fresh and modern collection that not only highlights Musillami's strengths as a player, composer and leader but more importantly as a master improviser with an understanding of individual performance aspects. Fonda and Schuller surpass the ability to take on the challenging, and ever-changing constructs of the music. The core trio creates energy and feeds off the same and the effect is to broaden the scope of improvisation. Pride is engaging on every level and a major achievement for Musillami.

Track Listing: Disc 1: Uncle Fino’s Garden; Bald Yet Hip (bass intro); Bald Yet Hip; Old Tea; Courageous David B.; Mountain Pride; (Wild Things Music): Max’s Wolf Suit; Max’s Moods; Wild Rumpus Music; And It Was Still Hot. Disc 2: Swedish Fish; Human Conditions; Beijing; Today the Angels.

Personnel: Michael Musillami: guitar; Joe Fonda: bass; George Schuller: drums; Kris Davis: piano (disc 1); Jimmy Greene: tenor saxophone (disc 1: 3, 5); Mark Feldman: violin (disc 2).

Title: Pride | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

The Treatment

The Treatment

Michael Musillami
The Treatment

Seven Blend

Seven Blend

Michael Musillami
Fragile Forms

Part Pitbull

Part Pitbull

Michael Musillami
Dachau

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Life Anthem

Life Anthem

Playscape Recordings
2018

buy
Of The Night

Of The Night

Playscape Recordings
2016

buy
Pride

Pride

Playscape Recordings
2015

buy
Pride

Pride

Playscape Recordings
2014

buy
Old Tea

Old Tea

Playscape Recordings
2010

buy
From Seeds

From Seeds

Playscape Recordings
2009

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 "Thinking, Whistling" CD/LP/Track Review Thinking, Whistling
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "9" CD/LP/Track Review 9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Intention" CD/LP/Track Review Intention
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "The Groove Cubed" CD/LP/Track Review The Groove Cubed
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 29, 2017
Read "Live at C-Boy's" CD/LP/Track Review Live at C-Boy's
by Doug Collette
Published: March 31, 2018
Read "The Answer Is No" CD/LP/Track Review The Answer Is No
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 28, 2017