Michael Musillami Octet: Spirits (2004)
It was a good day when guitarist Michael Musillami and his band of seven went in to record songs by Thomas Chapin. Musillami, Peter Madsen and Michael Sarin shared a close familiarity with Chapin and his music, having played with him. The others came into the fit on Musillami's vision, which as the end results prove, was not askance.
There is a constant rhythmic cohesion, even as the arrangements expand the body of Chapin's compositions and make room for the musicians to weave their spells. They do it in distinct manner: lissom, supple and with enough sinew to provide tone and tension. The fluidity and the easy interaction are evident right off. The players are tuned in, picking up the thread in one smooth move and then carrying it to their own realm of imagination.
One of the most tantalizing sequences comes on "Spirits Rebellious," the opening flutter of the flute, vibes, piano and horns streamlining into the formative head on the rhythm of Michael Sarin's drumming. The plateau is shaped by Tom Christensen on the alto sax as he evolves the melody and then fragments it, the pieces swirling before he loops the lines. Art Baron hones the 'bone and blows in a vibrant air before a distinct tangent in the shape of Musillami's prepared guitar cuts a flinty swath and rises in swollen turbulence. The impact is stunning as Madsen rides the song, the melody evoked by his right hand stamped by the block chords of his left.
There are softer moments too. One of them comes in the gentle beauty that is seen in a "Namibian Sunset," the melody singing in the gentle joy of Musillami's guitar, a pliant underbelly given by Satoshi Takeishi on percussion and the urging of Sarin's pulse. Tom Beckham extends the melodic goodness on the vibes and Madsen completes the lure.
Musillami's octet tantalizes as it creates a resolute document of Chapin's music.
Track Listing: Squid Fantasy; Star; Namibian Sunset; Goody; Spirits Rebellious; Circles; The Walking Wounded
Personnel: Michael Musillami--guitar, altered guitar; Peter Madsen--piano; Cameron Brown--bass; Tom Christensen--tenor and alto sax, alto flute, English horn, wood flute; Art Baron--trombone, bass recorder, didgeridoo; Tom Beckham--vibes, marimba; Satoshi Takeishi--percussion; Michael Sarin--drums