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 himself 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 acclaimed Playscape Recordings label, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2009.