Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Michael Musillami - Old Tea (Playscape, 2010)

A very interesting and singular modern jazz guitarist, Michael Musillami is also a bandleader and record label owner. This new album for his Playscape label is a stripped down trio date with Joe Fonda on bass and George Schuller on drums. Consisting of eleven original compositions, the music channels a variety of rhythms and moods and is consistently engaging. The haunting and spare "Introduction" opens the album with probing guitar accompanied by lightly bowed bass and washes of cymbals. "Old Tea" is an intricate trio improvisation, with Schuller starting the performance playing brushes and switching to drumsticks as the performance picks up pace, becoming very emotional with strong guitar and bass. The group keeps the pace rapid on "Shiner at Rocky's" with Musillami getting a nice tone from his instrument and really setting out his own voice and personality. Drums and guitar trade quick passages before making way for a think bass interlude. Schuller's short drum feature "The Binary Smirk" introduces one of the highlights of the session "King Alok" which has some fast and potent (almost rockish) guitar and drums. Bass and drums lock in well to support a grinding guitar conclusion. "Evy-Boy" slows the tempo down and features well paced guitar that has a graceful and mysterious feel, keeping the music gentle and spacious. The music on this album was dedicated to Musillami's son, who passed away early last year, and it is a fine tribute, running the gamut of emotions in music from joy to pain in a thoughtful and compassionate manner. Old Tea - amazon.com

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