Irish guitarist Mark O’Leary’s budding discography features collaborations with the crème de la crème of modern-jazz pros. Simply stated, he’s a standout talent who has rapidly summoned the eyes and ears of musicians and listeners here and abroad. His latest trio effort with this all-star rhythmic team is steeped within melodically-hued improvisational workouts.
The guitarist sports a dark-toned guitar sound to complement his penchant for generating ascending choruses, often performed with dazzling precision. And while this outing is not as hard-hitting and wily as previous endeavors, O’Leary perpetuates movable grooves atop bassist Steve Swallow drummer Pierre Favre’s variable pulses and zesty swing vamps.
On the title track "Awakening," O’Leary pursues yearning lines, where Swallow harmonizes the melody along with Favre’s fractured pulse. With the piece titled "Melting," the guitarist performs on acoustic guitar in harmonic accord with Swallow during the context of a probing ballad. But the preponderance of these semi-structured workouts are rooted in O’Leary’s fluent, diminutive and linearly crafted progressions, often generating a distinct dynamic edge.
He intimates a story via his lyrically-charged phrasings during the mid-tempo swing piece titled "MTF," where the rhythm section abides by a nip and tuck, loose groove mode of attack. Nonetheless, everyone is clearly in sync here. In sum, O’Leary’s star is on a spiraling fast-track progression as he spreads the word with raw-talent unleashed.