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October 2002

Michael Musillami
Part Pitbull
Playscape Recordings

Guitarist Michael Musillami teams up with pianist Peter Madsen for Part Pitbull, a program of avant-guard duets that explore a wide variety of musical possibilities. From the opening track, "Pitbull," it's apparent that both participants are accomplished musicians with considerable technical and musical abilities. While Musillami uses a clean tone similar to that of many jazz guitarists, in general his vocabulary-with the possible exception of relatively conservative tonal compositions like "Kinship," "Zaragoza" and "Braids"-is vastly different from that of the average jazzer. Rather than being based on a conventional chord progression or melody, the compositions often explore relationships that center on elements like texture and mood. Cases in point include the title track, a quickly moving morass with contrasting sections that periodically shift gears; "Cush," during which both participants utilize extended techniques that find Musillami playing a high pizzicato tremolo while Madsen caresses the guts of his acoustic piano; and "Circus Arts," with its frantic but precise interplay that transpires as the music jumps and jerks though space and time.

Often chaotic, jarring and dissonant, this material is obviously not for the musically faint of heart. If it can be appreciated at all, it takes an open mind, thought, acclimation and, very possibly, a great deal of preexisting experience with similar fare.

Originally published in October 2002
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