Crackleknob Reviewed In The Wire

May 15, 2009

Veteran jazz critic Brian Morton reviews Crackleknob‘s new self-titled debut on hatOLOGY in the June issue of The Wire.

“At first you might think nothing very much is going on,” he writes, “then you realise the most interesting passages are those which have been trimmed down to just a couple of plucked strings, unanchored bass notes and lonely brass breaths and cries. The action’s in the intervals and in the spatial distribution of sound, but there’s a solid architecture to each piece.”

The group, which features trumpeter Nate Wooley, guitarist Mary Halvorson and bassist Reuben Radding, will celebrate its new release with a performance at Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room on May 24th.

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The Michael Musillami Trio + 3’s From Seeds Coming May 19th

February 24, 2009

Playscape Recordings is proud to announce the May 19th street date of the first release on its 10th anniversary schedule, the Michael Musillami Trio + 3’s From Seeds (PSR#020109). 

The follow-up to 2007’s The Treatment (PSR#050607), his trio’s critically acclaimed collaboration with renowned violinist Mark Feldman, this release finds guitarist/composer Michael Musillami augmenting his seven year-old trio, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich and vibraphonist Matt Moran. 

The full group will tour the Northeast U.S. in support of the record in May and the core trio will tour Western Europe in late March.

“Composing and arranging all new music for a cohesive group that combines vibes, trumpet, and alto with a guitar trio meant taking things to a whole new level,” explains Musillami in the From Seeds liner notes. 

“Joe, George and I have come to trust each other completely on the stand.  The drama and constant shifts in environments can be both frightening and beautiful, and I didn’t want to lose any of the close interaction we’ve developed over the past seven years.  I needed three players with the sound, experience and confidence to not only play this music, but also put their stamp on it without taking away from what the trio does best.  Marty, Matt and Ralph were perfect choices.”

“Guitarist Musillami is really on a roll lately, documenting a number of high quality sessions on his Playscape label,” declared Cadence reviewer Jason Bivins.  Critics called his most recent, The Treatment, “scintillating and provocative” (Bill Milkowski, Absolute Sound), “an intensely rewarding and conceptually promising avenue for the future of jazz” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “as convincing a statement of what’s still possible with the instrumentation as anything I’ve heard in years” (Brian Morton, PointofDeparture.org). 

It was also included in best-of-the-year lists in AllAboutJazz.com, Cadence, Coda, the Hartford Courant, Jazz Review and the Village Voice.

Musillami has been called “a superior guitarist” (John McDonough, DownBeat), “an adroit and creative musician” (Michael J. West, JazzTimes), “a fine composer of notable original music” (Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide) and “a modern-day jazz master” (Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal). 

“His compositions develop in leisurely style from quiet simplicity to intricate complexity,” explained Jack Massarik in Jazzwise, “and the ensemble playing is civilized, sophisticated and clean.”  The Boston Phoenix‘s Jon Garelick adds,  “Musillami sounds familiar—this is swinging jazz guitar, after all—but not quite like anyone else.”

In a career that spans more than 25 years, Musillami has worked extensively as a performer, bandleader/composer and educator.  In addition to his flagship trio with Fonda and Schuller, which has performed in the U.S., Canada and Europe and released three CDs since 2002, he has earned critical notice as the leader of groups ranging from duo to octet featuring such prominent collaborators as Cameron Brown, Thomas Chapin, Drew Gress, Mario Pavone, Michael Sarin and Matt Wilson. 

He is also the longtime Director of Jazz Studies at The Hotchkiss School and founder/director of the esteemed Playscape Recordings label, which has released more than 40 distinctive recordings over the past decade.  Learn more at http://www.michaelmusillami.com


Reminder: Michael Musillami Trio + 3 To Make NYC Debut January 31st

December 31, 2008

 On Saturday, January 31st, guitarist/composer Michael Musillami‘s newest ensemble, the Michael Musillami Trio + 3, will make its New York debut at Cornelia Street Cafe.  The group will be performing new original music, which it will then record the following day for its forthcoming May 2009 release on Playscape Recordings.  The Michael Musillami Trio + 3 augments Musillami’s longstanding core trio, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich and vibraphonist Matt Moran.

“Guitarist Musillami is really on a roll lately, documenting a number of high quality sessions on his Playscape label,” declared Cadence reviewer Jason Bivins.  Critics called his latest, 2007’s The Treatment, featuring his trio with violinist Mark Feldman, “scintillating and provocative” (Bill Milkowski, Absolute Sound), “an intensely rewarding and conceptually promising avenue for the future of jazz” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “as convincing a statement of what’s still possible with the instrumentation as anything I’ve heard in years” (Brian Morton, PointofDeparture.org).  It was also included in best-of-the-year lists in AllAboutJazz.com, Cadence, Coda, the Hartford Courant, Jazz Review and the Village Voice.

Musillami has been called “a superior guitarist” (John McDonough, DownBeat), “an adroit and creative musician” (Michael J. West, JazzTimes), “a fine composer of notable original music” (Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide) and “a modern-day jazz master” (Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal).  “His compositions develop in leisurely style from quiet simplicity to intricate complexity,” explained Jack Massarik in Jazzwise, “and the ensemble playing is civilized, sophisticated and clean.”  The Boston Phoenix‘s Jon Garelick adds,  “Musillami sounds familiar—this is swinging jazz guitar, after all—but not quite like anyone else.”


Reminder: Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet At Iridium January 7th

December 23, 2008

 On Wednesday, January 7th, acclaimed bassist/composer Mario Pavone and his newest working ensemble, the Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet, will celebrate the release of their November debut, Ancestors (Playscape Recordings), with a two-set performance at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club. Pavone will also perform in New York a few days earlier on Friday, January 2nd at Cornelia Street Cafe with the sextet featured on his 2006 release, Deez To Blues (Playscape Recordings).

“The towering twin tenor approach is the focal point for Ancestors,” explains the All Music Guide‘s Michael G. Nastos, “utilizing two of the finest young, experienced, and individualistic saxophone players in modern jazz music—Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene. Add the under-appreciated but awesome pianist Peter Madsen and the reliable juggernaut of a drummer, Gerald Cleaver, and you have the makings for a truly superior combo, one of the best Pavone has ever fronted. While Pavone’s recordings are generally reliable and pointedly original, this effort is close to his very best, and deserves consideration for best jazz CD of 2008.” 

“On his day,” declared veteran jazz reviewer Brian Morton in Point of Departure, “Mario Pavone is one of the very best – and when on his game, by far the best – small-group composer/leaders working on the East Coast.” 

Critics have called him “a smart composer” (Nate Chinen, New York Times) and “a protean bassist” (Paul Blair, Hot House) who “never fails to implant an effective hook” (Bill Shoemaker, DownBeat) and “continues to move the tradition forward with every record” (John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com). 

His music has been described as “exciting and stimulating” (Jay Collins, Cadence), “sensitive and probing” (Owen McNally, Hartford Courant) and “full of smart angular swagger” (Michael Rosenstein, Signal to Noise).

The Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet will perform at Iridium Jazz Club on Wednesday January 7th at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets, $25, are available for sale at (212) 582-2121. Tickets, directions and further venue details are also available at http://iridiumjazzclub.com/info.php

The Mario Pavone Deez to Blues Sextet will perform at Cornelia Street Cafe on Friday, January 2nd at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. Admission is $10 per set with a one-drink minimum. Reservations can be made at (212) 989-9319 and further venue info is available at http://corneliastreetcafe.com. The band will feature Mario Pavone (bass), Charles Burnham (violin), Steven Bernstein (trumpet and slide trumpet), Lauren Sevian (baritone saxophone), Peter Madsen (piano) and Michael Sarin (drums). 


Mary Halvorson Trio To Perform At Roulette February 13th

December 17, 2008
Mary Halvorson Trio by Peter Gannushkin

Mary Halvorson Trio by Peter Gannushkin

On Friday, February 13th, Brooklyn-based guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson and her trio will perform at Roulette in New York.  The group, which also features bassist John Hebert and drummer Ches Smith, will be premiering brand new music in addition to performing selections from its acclaimed 2008 debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records).  The record, Ms. Halvorson’s first at the helm of her own ensemble, is featured on best-of-the-year lists in AllAboutJazz-New York, Hartford Courant and The Wire.

Critics called Dragon’s Head “an auspicious debut” (Bill Meyer, DownBeat), “a powerful experience” (Brian Morton, Jazz Review) and “among this year’s standout jazz albums and one of the more original recent statements by any jazz guitarist, let alone a female jazz guitarist” (Nate Chinen, New York Times).  “A singular talent,” adds AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins, “Brooklyn-based guitarist Mary Halvorson has come into her own as a composer and improviser with her trio debut, Dragon’s Head…light years ahead of her peers, she is the most impressive guitarist of her generation. The future of jazz guitar starts here.”

A veteran of the ensembles of esteemed saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson has been active in New York since 2000, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School.  In addition to her trio, she co-leads a chamber music duo with violist Jessica Pavone and the avant-rock duo, People, with drummer Kevin Shea.  She has also performed in ensembles led by Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Trevor Dunn, Curtis Hasselbring, Tony Malaby, Nicole Mitchell, Jason Moran, Matana Roberts, Elliott Sharp, John Tchicai and Matthew Welch among many others.