Regrouping with the rhythm section from his 2003 effort Beijing (bassist Joe Fonda, drummer George Schuller), Michael Musillami gives us the equally compelling Dachau, the latest from his consistently excellent Playscape label. Pianist and Playscape regular Peter Madsen joins the trio on the difficult funk-infused line "Part Pitbull" (the title track of an earlier duo album) and the rubato dreamscape "Today the Angels." Tenor saxophonist Tom Christensen gives "Archives," an older Musillami piece, plenty of free-jazz grit. Madsen, Christensen and trumpeter Dave Ballou swell the lineup to a sextet for the powerful 12-minute title track.
Musillami plays trio on three cuts that typify his angular, darkly hued aesthetic. Exploring the space where avant-garde meets groove, Musillami leans toward challenging written themes, abstract and dissonant harmony and open-ended solo flights. Count on him also for that essential jazz ingredient, the sound of surprise--say, his unaccompanied breaks on "Dresden," the subdued, pent-up atmospherics of "Rottweil" or the cakewalk feel that follows Joe Fonda's ripping bass solo on the finale,