Michael Musillami Trio + 3 To Make New York Debut, Record New CD in Early 2009

November 20, 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 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.


Reminder: Firehouse 12 To Present George Schuller’s Circle Wide This Friday

November 3, 2008



On Friday, November 7th, veteran drummer/composer George Schuller will perform with his longstanding group, Circle Wide, as part of Firehouse 12’s ongoing 2008 Fall Jazz Series

The New York-based band, which features saxophonist (and Hartford native) Jimmy Greene, guitarist Brad Shepik, vibraphonist Tom Beckham and bassist Dave Ambrosio, will be celebrating the recent release of its latest recording, Like Before, Somewhat After (Playscape Recordings), which pays tribute to the music of jazz legend Keith Jarrett’s seminal American Quartet of the 1970’s.  This two-set performance will feature innovative arrangements of classic Jarrett compositions, as well as brand new original music inspired by the source material.

“Embracing the lyricism inherent in Jarrett’s writing, Schuller’s ensemble offers one of the most euphorically adventurous albums in recent memory,” declared AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins.  “Like Before, Somewhat After invokes the bittersweet intensity of Jarrett’s formative work, making this richly rewarding tribute one of Schuller’s most beautiful and accessible albums.” 

Other critics called it “a tribute album that exceeds its goals because it isn’t satisfied with a simple tip of the hat” (Mike Shanley, JazzTimes) and “one of the more delightful recordings of modern jazz made in the 2000’s, a definite candidate for Best Jazz CD of 2008, and a high watermark in Schuller’s substantial career” (Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide).  Jazz.com’s Ted Gioia added, “They get past the notes on the page, and into something deeper, an elusive transcendence that defies even this glib critic.”

For more than 25 years, Schuller has worked with many of the most respected names in jazz and improvised music as a bandleader, composer/arranger, sideman and record producer.  His diverse discography as a performer features more than 50 recordings, including collaborations with Ballin’ the Jack, Ran Blake, Bill DeArango, Burton Greene, Joe Lovano, Andrew Rathbun, Tom Varner and his father, 2008 NEA Jazz Master, Gunther Schuller. 

In addition to work with his own bands, Circle Wide and The Schulldogs, Schuller currently performs with the Armen Donelian Trio, Conference Call, Free Range Rat and the Michael Musillami Trio among others.  He is also a co-producer of the documentary film, Music Inn, which explores the history of the legendary School of Jazz in Lenox, Massachusetts.  

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