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Pete McCann: Range

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On Range, his fifth recording as a leader, longtime New York guitarist Pete McCann pushes his compositional gifts beyond their outer limits. The aesthetic gambits packed into these 10 originals don’t always make for casual listening, but the resultant album is nevertheless an intriguing, largely rewarding experience.

“Dyad Changes” solidly exemplifies McCann’s exploratory spirit. Influenced by the work of 12-tone pioneer Anton Webern, the track melds a relentless, hard-chopping beat with minor-key space-funk from Henry Hey on Fender Rhodes. “Numinous” extends the serialism, McCann’s sparse acoustic notes interlaced with Hey’s eerie unresolved phrases and subtle cymbal fades from drummer Mark Ferber. Pirouetting Indian-style rhythmic patterns grace the shadowy “Seventh Jar,” while “Bridge Scandal,” inspired by New Jersey’s recent “Bridgegate” controversy, finds McCann cutting loose with some straight-up rock shredding while alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher wails with brash insistence. On “Mustard,” the album’s most stylistically expansive offering, McCann interjects jagged clusters of abstraction into a nimble melodic statement from O’Gallagher and Hey (here on organ). From there, Hey solos soulfully, McCann lets fly with his bluesiest phrases of the recording, and the bridge unexpectedly evokes the brassy good-time vibe of a late-night talk-show band.

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