DIG - (music inspired by and dedicated to Bill Evans)
by Michael Musillami & Rich Syracuse
On October 1, 2019, Playscape Recordings will release Dig - (music inspired by and dedicated to Bill Evans) (PSR #030519), a duo recording by veteran guitarist/composer Michael Musillami and master bassist and co-leader Rich Syracuse. This is the duo's third recording, following Of the Night (the music of Wayne Shorter) released in 2016 and Bird Calls (the music of Charles Mingus) released in 2017.
After continually adding music composed or inspired by Bill Evans to their live performance repertoire, Musillami and Syracuse felt a strong desire to document an open and expansive vision of Evans often played pieces. The duo, manipulating harmonic content, time and color wanted to put their stamp on the music they had been listening to for 40+ years.
In veteran pianist Peter Madsen's liner notes, composed for this release, he writes, "For me the artistic expression of inner feelings through music reached a highpoint with the playing of this genius poet of the piano! Bill Evans presence in the jazz world through his improvisations and compositions has strongly affected not only pianists but also musicians on all instruments who strive to follow in his path of beauty, creativity and deep communication. The CD you are now holding is a perfect example demonstrating how his influence has motivated two great musicians of today to honor the great Bill Evans by using his compositions and pieces he has made famous as vehicles for their creative musical explorations! On this CD, brilliant guitarist Michael Musillami and creative double bassist Rich Syracuse dig deep into standards like Blue in Green, Nardis and All Blues as well as some not so famous masterpieces like 12 Tone Tune, Bill's Hit Tune and How My Heart Sings."
"The CD’s second track, Twelve Tone Tune takes the listener on an open-ended avant-romp that tugs on the strings of convention," says Musillami. "On Nardis, written by Miles Davis and one of my favorite pieces, we deconstructed the song form to suit the moment with unpredictable results. Even Rich and I were surprised at the roadmap we created on the spot."
Dig was recorded by master engineer Nick Lloyd at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut.
by Michael Musillami Trio + 2
On June 5th, Playscape Recordings released Life Anthem (PSR#091717), featuring veteran guitarist/composer Michael Musillami with his flagship trio. Life Anthem is Musillami's ninth Playscape Recordings release with the trio, featuring bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller. As he has done in the past, for this latest release Musillami augmented the trio with the addition of cornetist Kirk Knuffke and Jason Robinson on saxophones and flute.
"The MM Trio has been creating music since 2002, with our first release, Beijing being released in 2003," writes Musillami in his liner notes. "It has been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey filled with multiple tours to Canada and Europe, as well as our home in America. Life Anthem offers the trio in full bloom, fearless and on fire. The addition of Jason Robinson and Kirk Knuffke punctuates our message in all CAPS!!!"
Life Anthem documents Musillami's journey back from sudden illness followed by a months-long recovery during which this music was composed. On June 8th, 2016 Musillami woke up with what he termed as a "crashing headache." After waiting two days with what he thought was a migraine, he found himself in a life or death situation after an ambulance ride to the ER followed by a flurry of tests which revealed not only a brain hemorrhage, but (oddly) an unrelated brain tumor.
"I opened and closed this record with the title tune Life Anthem, because it is an optimistic melody," writes Musillami. "For the opening track I asked each player to play this melody alone, their own way, as they think it should be played. All renditions were beautiful.
The simplicity and warm tone Kirk achieved on his horn made for a perfect opener. The most beautiful things in life can be the most simple. We closed the set out with the full ensemble in a spirited, open and free reading of the melody, Life Anthem."
"The music contained on this CD was written during late June, July and August of 2016 as I slowly recovered from my ordeal," writes Musillami. "I am happy to report that I am fine and better than ever."