Bird Calls is a duo recording of the music of Charles Mingus by veteran guitarist/composer Michael Musillami and master bassist and co-leader Rich Syracuse, a long-time member of the late baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola's Quartet. Bird Calls is Musillami's second recording with bassist Syracuse, following their 2016 collaboration Of the Night
, recordings from the Wayne Shorter songbook, released on the Playscape Recordings label.
In their early years, both Musillami and Syracuse recall the introduction of the music of Charles Mingus as a heavy influence in how they framed jazz music going forward. Writes Musillami, "For as long as I can remember I've always referred to Mingus' writing and arranging style as a guidepost for what I can possibly add or imply in my compositions." Syracuse adds, "Even at the young age of eight years old I heard the seriousness, the swinging, the improvisation and the brilliance of Charles Mingus. This album is not a tribute to Charles Mingus as much as it's an exploration of his music."
This latest release documents personal interpretations of Mingus' Opus 3
, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
, Boogie Stop Shuffle
and the titular and beautifully melodic Bird Calls
. Free Cell Block F
, ‘tis Nazi USA
, Nostalgia in Times Square
, Carolyn Kiki Mingus and Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love
are also included in the set list.
"In general, we approached much of this set with an open mind - not trying to recreate what Mingus did, but use the elements in his music, melody, harmony, and rhythmic figures to create something that is our personal statement." - Michael Musillami
Bird Calls was recorded by master engineer Nick Lloyd at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut.