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Michael Musillami

Michael Musillami

Guitarist Michael Musillami may shake some widely held assumptions about his style and music on his latest release, Beijing (Playscape). The trio date features arresting interplay between guitarist Musillami, bassist Joe Fonda and percussionist George Schuller, and the session has a fresh, vibrant sensibility despite the fact that Musillami has previously recorded every piece on the CD. “Doing this in a trio context helped me look and approach them differently,” he says. “It was really like they were new pieces, because Joe and George kept finding new things texturally, and I could respond to that.”

On Beijing, Musillami pays close attention to dynamics and mood while displaying the frenetic touches, slithering lines, and dissonant edges that have characterized his other releases. “This album was really about getting down on record the kinds of things Joe and I have done in live sets,” Musillami says. “We’ve developed a kinship and closeness that I think is really reflected in the songs. It wasn’t a situation where we felt we had to do any particular type of thing or make any special statement beyond expressing what was happening during the recording.” Although Musillami’s not performing conventional mainstream selections on Beijing, there’s a peaceful, contemplative sensibility that emerges during his solos on the title cut and “Op-Ed,” the disc’s two longest pieces. Schuller and Fonda prove genuine collaborators who don’t sit back and wait for Musillami to establish the pace, instead directly influencing each number through subtle rhythmic changes and adjustments.

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