It was a good day when guitarist Michael Musillami and his band of seven went in to record songs by Thomas Chapin. Musillami, Peter Madsen and Michael Sarin shared a close familiarity with Chapin and his music, having played with him. The others came into the fit on Musillami's vision, which as the end results prove, was not askance.
There is a constant rhythmic cohesion, even as the arrangements expand the body of Chapin's compositions and make room for the musicians to weave their spells. They do it in distinct manner: lissom, supple and with enough sinew to provide tone and tension. The fluidity and the easy interaction are evident right off. The players are tuned in, picking up the thread in one smooth move and then carrying it to their own realm of imagination.
One of the most tantalizing sequences comes on "Spirits Rebellious," the opening flutter of the flute, vibes, piano and horns streamlining into the formative head on the rhythm of Michael Sarin's drumming. The plateau is shaped by Tom Christensen on the alto sax as he evolves the melody and then fragments it, the pieces swirling before he loops the lines. Art Baron hones the 'bone and blows in a vibrant air before a distinct tangent in the shape of Musillami's prepared guitar cuts a flinty swath and rises in swollen turbulence. The impact is stunning as Madsen rides the song, the melody evoked by his right hand stamped by the block chords of his left.
There are softer moments too. One of them comes in the gentle beauty that is seen in a "Namibian Sunset," the melody singing in the gentle joy of Musillami's guitar, a pliant underbelly given by Satoshi Takeishi on percussion and the urging of Sarin's pulse. Tom Beckham extends the melodic goodness on the vibes and Madsen completes the lure.
Musillami's octet tantalizes as it creates a resolute document of Chapin's music.
Personnel: Michael Musillami (guitar, altered guitar), Peter Madsen (piano), Cameron Brown (bass), Tom Christensen (tenor and alto saxophones, alto flute, English horn, wood flute), Art Baron (trombone, bass recorder, didgeridoo), Tom Beckham (vibes, marimba), Satoshi Takeishi (percussion), Michael Sarin (drums)
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.