Thursday, June 11, 2009

Michael Musillami - From Seeds (Playscape, 2009)

Guitarist Michael Musillami wears many hats as bandleader, composer, musician and label executive, leading the excellent Playscape label into it's tenth year. This album has him leading an interesting group which includes Joe Fonda on bass, Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Marty Ehrlich on saxophones, and George Schuller on drums and Matt Moran on vibes. The vibraphone and guitar give the group an interesting unique sound and texture. The opening track, "Splayed Fingers" is an uptempo and complex composition, shimmering as vibes probe, and then giving way to a piercing saxophone solo before the group returns to the complex melody. This song has lengthy complex suite like movements, and trumpet solos. "Ga Ga Goosebumps" is mostly uptempo where driving guitar pushes and pulls then changes its solo to cool and understated. A strong sax solo follows, and trumpet opens light then picking up speed, back to driving guitar and then out. "From Seeds" has a complex modern full band, abstract with snarling guitar over shifting drums, gaining strength and intensity. Peaking with some really wild stuff, this is the highlight of the album with awesome guitar and a wild and wholly saxophone solo. "Wysteria Hysteria Blues" slower opening and a nice probing guitar solo. "Bill Barron" wraps things up in a cool and very jazzy way with a nice sounding guitar solo, a touching tribute to an underrated musician. This was a complex and enjoyable album of modern jazz. Playscape flies a little bit under the radar because their releases are neither way out avant garde or slavishly retro, but as far as thoughtful completely modern jazz is concerned, they are one of the finest and most consistent labels and this is another excellent example of their work.
From Seeds -

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