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, and “as convincing a statement of what’s still possible with the instrumentation as anything I’ve heard in years” (Brian Morton, 

It was also included in best-of-the-year lists in, 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

Mary Halvorson Featured At Dusted

January 20, 2009
Mary Halvorson by Hilary McHone

Mary Halvorson by Hilary McHone

Jason Bivins’ profile of guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson is now online at Dusted. The piece is part of the Web publication’s annual Destined section, which spotlights ten musicians to watch in the new year.

“This zeal for things that are ‘unsafe’ is what makes Halvorson’s music so fresh,” Bivins writes. “It’s nothing that’s especially tied in with genre – straying from one, embracing another – so much as it’s tied in with feel and with some strategies of avoidance…what’s most provocative about Halvorson is just this kind of tension, a sound that seems to embody all the open-ended possibilities of musical convergences, interstitial music, where boundaries get problematized, where scene insularity gets exploded (just listen to songs like ‘Sweeter Than You’ and ‘Too Many Ties’ from Dragon’s Head). At the heart of it all is the slightly raw, emphatic, unvarnished sound of Halvorson’s guitar.”

2008 Cadence Record Poll

January 15, 2009

The Jan/Feb/Mar 2009 issue of Cadence arrived yesterday and with it the results of the magazine’s annual Record Poll.

Bill Dixon’s 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound: Darfur (Arts for Art/AUM Fidelity) earned the fourth place slot in the Readers’ Choices Poll (only nine votes behind the winner three slots above), as well as a full-page review further on in that same issue written by Jason Bivins.

Bivins wrote, “Put briefly, this group doesn’t once (collectively or individually) commit the cardinal sin of large ensemble group improv: overplaying.  Rather, they listen, leave space and make each dynamic shift count as they realize Dixon’s dark musical vision.  That vision emerges in great detail, thanks firstly to a quite rich and colorful score, but also thanks to a very clear recording.”

In the Critics’ Choices Poll, for which contributors choose their 10 favorite releases covered in one of the magazine’s four 2008 issues, Jay Collins picked Mario Pavone’s Trio Arc (Playscape Recordings) and Jason Adasiewicz’s Rolldown (482 Music), Michael Coyle chose Eri Yamamoto’s Duologue (AUM Fidelity), and Michael Rosenstein selected Peter Evans’ The Peter Evans Quartet (Firehouse 12 Records). 

Congratulations to the clients listed above and all those recognized in the poll results.