Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Michael Musillami Trio + 4, "Mettle," Advanced Jazz for Septet

Guitarist, jazz composer, bandleader. Any one of these things is tough enough to do when you are putting forward an advanced sort of progressive semi-electric jazz, as is Michael Musillami with his Trio + 4 and their album Mettle (Playscape 070111). Yet Micheal does all these things rather exceptionally well. His trio of self, Joe Fonda, bass, and George Schuller, drums, has held together, gigged and recorded a fair number of albums so far, getting more intensely together, tighter in a telepathic sense. Now they bring in four additional soloists/ensemble members for a quite ambitious program. There isn't a single slouch in the bunch: Matt Moran, vibes, Russ Johnson, trumpet, Jeff Lederer, tenor & clarinet, and Ned Rothenberg on alto & clarinet. They add much in a collective and solo sense to the music.

And of course you have the formidable, keen-edged sensibilities of the trio as backbone. Musillami plays a grinding, driving post-fusion guitar with a sound, rhythmic push and inventive notefulness that puts him on his own plane. Fonda and Schuller work together with a beautiful free-swing loose-tightness.

The compositions are weighty, the arrangements strong, the band cooks, the soloists get torque collectively and individually.

It's a bit of a monster. A nice monster of a set. Get it.

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