By Howard Mandel | Published January 2017
Taking Wayne Shorter’s compositions as inspirations rather than floor plans, Michael Musillami stretches guitar artistry as exemplified by Joe Pass—sans chordal counterpoint—into outer realms of lyrical abstraction on Of The Night. Casting long, single-note lines that climb, lope and spin from their familiar themes for destinations unexpected, Musillami uses his nuanced touch, pearly sound, tuneful instincts and rhythmic musicality to fine effect, matched by responsive bassist Rich Syracuse.
In intimate, collaborative duet, both players let their music flow as loosely associated ideas through mostly subdued moods. Musillami and Syracuse approach their chosen source material with respect and thoughtfulness, but they’re also eager to take chances. Shorter’s pieces often take the form of slender slip-knotted threads, and it’s daring to deconstruct them—the generative motifs may be lost entirely. But Musillami pulls apart “Footprints” every which way, stamps “Juju” with highly personal, fluid improvisation, and lets episodes of “Black Nile” slip into suspended time.
Of The Night: Footprints; Juju; Black Nile; Children Of The Night; Iris; One By One; Virgo. (54:48)
Personnel: Michael Musillami, guitar; Rich Syracuse, bass.