New York guitarist Pete McCann brings his fifth solo album to Whirlwind Recordings - a quintet recording of all-new material which distills his vast experience of working alongside some of jazz's greatest artists, including Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, and David Liebman.
With an eclectic approach to his music-making (previous projects have encompassed straight-ahead jazz, Latin, fusion and contemporary classical), McCann now presents jazz/rock cornucopia Range, its title a metaphor for the breadth of his colorful musical career as well as the diversity of the sounds expressed so eloquently here with longstanding personnel of choice - John O'Gallagher (sax), Henry Hey (keys), Matt Clohesy (basses) and Mark Ferber (drums).
The ebullient grooves and staggering improvisational proficiency contained within McCann's peppy output point to a lifelong appreciation of guitar luminaries such as Wes Montgomery, Bill Frisell and John Scofield - yet he also reveals a no-holes-barred enthusiasm for the heavier, solid-body jazz/rock influence of Mike Stern, Allan Holdsworth and especially John McLaughlin (Pete was guitarist in convincing US tribute band The Mahavishnu Project, endorsed by the great man).
Opener "Kenny" recalls the melodic and harmonic invention of the late, great Canadian trumpeter; and "Realm" (a nod to NYC pianist Richie Beirach) resounds to O'Gallagher's elaborate alto pyrotechnics. As hot as jalapeno, "Mustard" roars to heady sax-led motifs, wailing Hammond B-3 and gritty American-rock guitar; abstractly mysterious "Numinous" echoes McCann's involvement in O'Gallagher's exploration of 12-tonism (The Anton Webern Project, also recorded on Whirlwind), while the guitarist pays homage to the fluidity of Lee Konitz's writing in "Rumble". And for possibly the wildest jazz rock-out of the year - referencing the angst of New Jersey's infamous lane closure debacle - "Bridge Scandal" becomes characterized by the leader's audacious fretboard velocity, and is quite simply a show-stealer.
In this most absorbing of releases, Pete McCann's unerring artistry is equalled only by his vehement personality: "It feels really exciting to be working with Whirlwind, and in Europe, for the first time. I hope that audiences will be pleasantly surprised by what they hear and will recognize my influences as a player and writer."