211

Michael Musillami: Those Times

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
In the intervening decade since guitarist Michael Musillami recorded his first Playscape sides, his playing has evolved substantially. He's broken the straight-ahead swinging mold that characterized his first three releases on the label, experimenting more with space and time. Beijing (2003) brought this forward- looking approach to the foreground. The latest in the string, Those Times, retreats to more familiar territory.

Musillami takes this opportunity to pursue his love for "the standard jazz repertoire," though only about half of these tunes would be immediately recognizable to the average jazz fan. No matter, the guitarist understands the music well and interacts very intuitively with the other members of his quartet. His strength has always been group dynamics, and this record is no exception.

If you had to single out a classic jazz guitarist with a sound most similar to Musillami's, it would be Wes Montgomery. Both players share a deep respect for swing, a strong bluesy feel, and a direct melodic approach. But the comparison ends there. Musillami's got more of an oblique sense of harmony, and he prefers to stab and thrust when it comes to time. He's helped along substantially in this regard by drummer George Schuller, who swings hard and keeps time but is anything but predictable.

Highlights of the record include "Angel Eyes," with a rippling linear introduction that segues into more complex melody lines with intermittent octaves, trills, and off-kilter comping. Bassist Dave Shapiro introduces a warm aura without overplaying. Sam Rivers' "Beatrice" waxes hopelessly romantic, piano and guiter intertwining in a relaxed manner that suggests loose improvisation.

The best thing about this record, other than the usual solid group interplay, is the way the quartet brings out the character of these "standards" without resorting to the usual cartoonish bluster. Improvisation dominates over arrangement, spontaneity over any master plan. But these tunes sound warm and familiar, like a blanket you'd throw over your lap in front of the fire.


Track Listing: Comrade Conrad; Peace; Angel Eyes; Those Times; Out of Nowhere; Beatrice; It Could Happen To You.

Personnel: Michael Musillami: guitar; Ted Rosenthal: piano; Dave Shapiro: bass; George Schuller: drums.

Title: Those Times | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Affirmative" CD/LP/Track Review Affirmative
by Jim Olin
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "The Reasons Don't Change" CD/LP/Track Review The Reasons Don't Change
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Standard Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Standard Blue
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by John Sharpe
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "The Conscience" CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.