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Op*Ed by Mario Pavone and Michael Musillami

There's a lot of upside to this CD. That the four musicians on this recording constitute a regular working unit is evident by the ease and fluency with which they communicate on a set of eight stylistically diverse originals. Each musician handles his instrument freshly and capably. While several of the compositions and performances at times call to mind the work of other performers, there is little or nothing that can be dismissed as derivative. Jazz, like any other art form, is built on its history and these gentlemen demonstrate an excellent working knowledge thereof.

The title track is a nice piece of Monkian composition by Musillai and Pavone. "Bass Song" starts, naturally enough, with some solo playing on that instrument by Pavone that melodically recalls (perhaps inadvertently, perhaps not) some of Geezer Butler's work on the first two Black Sabbath albums before the full group joins in, varying moods and time signatures liberally. "7 Blend" begins with the drumming of Michael Sarin before the full group falls in with a theme that Ornette Coleman might have written, the overall effect being something like a less manic version of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society. "Swingthing," with its walking bass and swinging, cymbal riding drumming seems descended from the work of Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. "Today the Angels" is structurally comparable to one of those tour de forces by Carlos Santana like "Samba Pa Ti," with the rhythm section laying down a fluid background for Musillami to solo off of, pianist Peter Madsen's glissando playing being particularly beautiful here. A distorted guitar, tonally like Santana or the late Sonny Sharrock, comes in and completes the scene. The playing here is not as self-indulgent as one would expect from either of the above named gentlemen, but neither is it as lyrically beautiful. "Pearl Talk," the album's last number, is notable for the interesting indeterminate sounds from Musillami's guitar to open it.

The music on this album is constantly interesting, and the playing is continually assured and inspired. What it isn't is transcendently so; though they appear to be courting it, the musicians don't quite achieve greatness. That's a lot to ask for, of course, so what's here is really enough. This band is on a good path and it will be interesting to see where it will lead them.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mario Pavone and Michael Musillami
  • CD Title: Op*Ed
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Playscape Recordings
  • Musicians: Michael Musillami (guitar), Mario Pavone (bass), Peter Madsen (piano), Michael Sarin (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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