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Chad McCullough: The Charm of Impossibilities


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Chad McCullough: The Charm of Impossibilities
At its core, trumpeter Chad McCullough's album, The Charm of Impossibilities is an homage to the music of classical composer Olivier Messiaen, whose singular approach to composition has inspired McCullough since he first happened upon works by the French writer soon after the turn of this century. He writes, "Messiaen's music is so complex in structure, yet still accessible to the casual listener and completely overwhelming emotionally." His plan for the album was to transpose Messiaen's concepts to a setting "where the result would yield music... conducive to improvisation."

With that in mind, McCullough chose longtime colleagues bassist Larry Kohut and drummer Jon Deitemeyer to escort him through eleven of his ambitious original essays, with saxophonist Jon Irabagon sitting in on five numbers. While the concept may be classical, the result is perceptive and tasteful contemporary jazz, none of which would be possible without the expertise of McCullough and his teammates.

Besides working well as a group, each member is a sharp and resourceful soloist. While they may occasionally skirt the boundaries of disharmony (especially Irabagon who has a tendency to screech when moderation would suffice), such departures are brief and, by no means, troubling enough to lessen one's overall pleasure. McCullough carries much of the improvisational load, and he is clearly up to the task, bolstering his handsome sound with quick and eloquent ad libs. As for Irabagon, he plays forceful tenor saxophone on four numbers, soprano saxophone on the closing reprise of "Bee in the Flower."

While scarcely any listeners are likely to come away humming McCullough's tunes, they are by and large bright and engaging albeit a shade below memorable. Most notably, he has done what he set out to do, honoring Olivier Messian's music while placing it in a jazz framework. The Charm of Impossibilities is by and large charming and definitely worth hearing.

Track Listing

Retroactive Resonance; Remain Soverign.


Jon Irabagon
saxophone, sopranino
Additional Instrumentation

Jon Irabagon-tenor and soprano saxophones (1,4,6,10,11)

Album information

Title: The Charm of Impossibilities | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Calligram Records

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