Sunday, January 1, 2012
Once the guitars were built, Monteleone commissioned Wilson to create his "song cycle". The composer invited 3 friends to play the suite with him, jazz plectrist Steve Cardenas, the splendid Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro and the impressive "child prodigy" (now 23) Julian Lage. The 4-part composition - "Winter", "Spring", "Summer" and "Autumn" - incorporates the quartet of guitars into a wistful yet often intensely emotional world of shimmering notes, highly rhythmical strumming, intricate melodies, and single-note runs that are, at turns, delicate and breath-taking. Recorded in concert at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the performance (some of which is documented on the DVD) is filled with handsome interplay, dazzling unison lines, and, when one sits back and really pays attention, wonderful conversations between friends. Each guitarist gets a "solo" turn; Pineheiro plays a lovely version of Jobim's "Tide" on the "spring" guitar while Lage caresses Eddie Lang's "April Kisses" on the "summer" 6-strings. Cardenas utilizes the "winter" guitar to create a simple yet stunning version of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" and Wilson plays "Mediation on Autumn/Fall" (a medley of an original piece with the Wayne Shorter composition from Miles Davis's "Nefertiti" Lp) on, naturally, the "autumn" guitar. The program closes with the quartet reconvening for a pleasing performance of Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game" (wonderful counterpoint throughout the song.)
"Seasons" is all acoustic music yet there is electricity in the interplay. The warmth of John Monteleone's 4 guitars is evident throughout as is the camaraderie of the Anthony Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Julian Lage and Chico Pinheiro. Wilson's writing, arrangements and playing continues to mature and this recording is a gem. For more information, go to www.anthonywilsonmusic.com.
Enjoy "Spring" from "Seasons:
The Michael Musillami Trio - guitarist/composer Musillami, bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller - is celebrating 10 years as a unit in 2012. Over that span, they have issued 2 CDs,3 as a Trio and 2 with guests (violinist Mark Feldman is on "The Treatment" while Ralph Alessi, Matt Moran and Marty Ehrlich are added on "From Seeds.").
3 longer pieces complete the CD. The opening track, "Piana Dei Greci" (dedicated to the small Sicilian village for which all 4 of the guitarist's grandparents came from), starts quietly withy shimmering vibes supporting a rich guitar melody. Here, as in other moments on the disk, Musillami's guitar work and tone sounds like a bit like Carlos Santana - the tune opens up to allow short solos from the front line. "Blues for the Wounded Warrior" is dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project that assists members of the armed services who have life-altering injuries. This is not a sorrowful "blues" but a defiant one with exciting solos from Rothenberg and Lederer on saxophones as well as Moran on vibes. 2/3rds of thr way through the 14-minute track, Musillami commences a series of dialogues, first with the drums, then the bass and culminating with the trumpet leading to rousing, upbeat, finish. The final track, "Thuggish Mornings", was inspired by the composer and his daughter wearing their "hoodies" to breakfast as well as the music and rhythms of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. In the midst of the funky "beats", the melody line reflects both European classical and Jamaican influences (!) Johnson's solo is an aural treat then Lederer and Rothenberg duel and dance around on their respective clarinets. It's a joyful close to an impressive CD.
Michael Musillami shows continued growth and new strength on "Mettle" - the tunes are all strong, the arrangements impressive and his playing shines. Yet, this is primarily an ensemble recording and he allows his 6 fellow travelers plenty of room to display their talents.To find out more, go to www.playscape-recordings.com and follow the links.
On Friday January 13th, Musillami bring the Trio +4 to the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT, to celebrate the release of "Mettle." The guitarist is Director of jazz Studies at the private high school Long-time associate Peter Madsen (piano) replaces Matt Moran for the gig that will feature new material arranged for the different lineup. To find out more, go to www.hotchkiss.org or call 860-435-4423.