With his fifth album as a leader, Australian composer/keyboardist Barney McAll continues his extraordinary fusing of the jazz vernacular into a unique voice. In 1997, he relocated to New York City and joined sax great Gary Bartz’s quartet while partaking in the area’s downtown scene activities among other music-based endeavors. Here, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel provides a significant ingredient to McAll’s multilateral compositional structures that often spawn a sense of wonderment.
The keyboardist looks at the big picture here. His works span odd-metered pulses, sprinkled with streaming EFX and ethereal treatments amid changeable flows and punishing jazz-rock grooves. Yet, McAll is a consummate melody-maker, where memorable hooks often serve as the core factor.
On "Flashback," Rosenwinkel and tenor saxophonist Jay Rodriguez execute a complex series of choruses that give way to multiple, integrated themes. However, McAll augments many of these movements with delicate piano phrasings while weaving intricate motifs and highly-emotive sentiment into various passages. As his broad scope and vision includes the Latin element via Rosenwinkel’s, Wes Montgomery-like chord clusters during the endearing piece, "New Eyes."
Regardless of whatever stylizations the artist embeds into the program, he manages to impart a mark of authenticity into the grand schema. For example, McAll injects a vintage King Crimson, prog-rock vibe into a jazz-fusion mindset on the powerful comp titled "Red and Black Shifts." Here, Rosenwinkel renders crunching licks while the leader dapples the heavy pulse with airy ornamentations.
McAll’s "Costello," is a drifting ballad dedicated to bassist Gary Costello, so its not all about soaring guitar lines and complex metrics. On the contrary, McAll engineers a string of aural portraitures that do indeed, go straight to the heart, in various colors and forms. (Exuberantly recommended.... )