Saturday, March 24, 2012
Mighty Musillami Music + Joel Harrison's New Music
The Trio - guitar, bass and drummer George Schuller - and the + 4 - Matt Moran (vibraphone), Russ Johnson (trumpet), Ned Rothenberg (alto sax, clarinet) and the irrepressible Jeff Lederer (tenor sax, clarinet) - perform Friday March 30 in the performance space of Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street, in New Haven. The new CD, arguably Musillami's finest, features the 8-part "Summer Suite" is extremely personal (each piece or section of a composition has a story connected. The arrangements are tailor-made for these musicians, the interplay and communication is quite evident even on a studio date, and the vast majority have good melodies, harmonies and room for improvisation. Messrs. Musillami, Fonda and Schuller have played as a unit for over a decade and their "sonic identity" has grown nicely since their early days. And the 4 additions really fill out the sound as well as bring their own strong identities to the music - honestly, this music should soar even higher in person.
They'll play 2 sets, 8:30 and 10 p.m. For ticket information, go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468.
There are 2 cover pieces, "Whipping Post" (yes, the Allman Brothers classic) and Olivier Messiaen's "O Sacrum Convivium." In person, the former rattled the speakers in the room with Leong's incendiary cello solo and the leader's wailing guitar, Here, you have to turn up the volume a bit to get a similar feel but the music really soars, especially after the drum solo. As for the Messiaen work, Harrison's arrangement transforms the French composer's religious motet into a work with expressive guitar and tenor saxophone solos (also listen for the good work of Versace and Howes.) The title track closes the CD - it's a 2+ minute tour-de-force for Versace on acoustic piano with a melody line at the end that sounds like a variation of "Whipping Post."
"Search" is an excellent title for this program. Over his career, Joel Harrison has created music that bends boundaries (2003's "Free Country", "Harrison on Harrison", the music of the late Beatle, and string quartet + guitars arrangements of the music of Paul Motian) - this new CD continues his explorations and experimentation with fusing diverse forms of music. Give it a good listen, then try to find the Septet playing live. For more information, go to www.joelharrison.com.