Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Co-leaders Barney McAll and George Schuller, joined by bassist Matt Pavolka, use the jazz piano trio tradition as a launching pad for new ideas and pathways undiscovered. Featuring originals from both composers as well as thoughtful re-examinations of works by Wayne Shorter, Henry Mancini and Les McCann, That keeps one eye on the music's history and another searching for the nearest exit." DownBeat
Personnel: Barney McAll (piano); George Schuller (drums, bells).
Audio Mixer: George Schuller.
Recording information: Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ (08/29/2007/02/18/2008).
Photographer: Barney McAll.
The Eastern Seaboard-based Trio This have a lot of that, those, and them going on. From a beautiful modern jazz perspective, influences including but not exclusive to Keith Jarrett, and immensely talented individuals like drummer George Schuller, bassist Matt Pavolka, and especially Australian-born pianist Barney McAll, this threesome has made a wonderfully attractive, imaginative musical statement with That. McAll's original music, tacked onto to some very intelligent choices for covers -- or reinterpretations to be accurate -- and two compositions from Schuller add up to a collection of works that flows in steady currents like any of the purest, cleanest rivers or streams. In this world of carbon-copy musicians, McAll should be duly noted as one whose strives for originality, depth, and substance. On his exciting composition "Flashback," he displays great musical insight in a modal fashion, yet extrapolates melody lines that extend far beyond the pale in a type of spirit song, rivaling peers like Aaron Parks and Robert Glasper. He also knows how to change up on styles within the mainstream jazz framework, as on the country-soul-tinged "Where It Stops, Nobody Knows"; the light bossa-funk "Lava Lamp" (penned by Schuller), where shadings are darker by degrees; the hymnal-to-waltz pacing of Geoffrey Shaw's "Langham" as arranged by McAll; and the delicate, pretty Henry Mancini ballad "Dreamland." Two selections stand out not only for the way they are played, but that they were unearthed in contemporary times. Les McCann's "Get That Soul" is a parallel to Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" in its bassline, with a cool and erudite groove, while Wayne Shorter's "Pug Nose" is very pleasant rather than the challenging sound you may expect, with solid-as-a-rock musicianship from the trio. The clear and present ability of McAll cannot be ignored much longer, and perhaps this will be the breakout recording that garners him his due recognition. In the meantime, this album comes easily recommended among the glut of efforts in this format, rising well above most of them. ~ Michael G. Nastos