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.
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