Sunday, August 29, 2010
John McNeil/Bill McHenry
John McNeil/Bill McHenry - Chill Morn He Climb Jenny - Sunnyside SSC 1268
Let it be said that this writer is 'officially' dubbing this band, 'The Mac Band'. And I'll bet 2 to 1 that title has already been taken. After-all two guys with the last names beginning with Mc its a natch! And another thing about these two is that their music is full of pathos and humor.Throw in some tense drama for effect. And from their CD liner pics both appear faintly familiar. McNeil, as the iritable neighborhood coot who walks up and down the street carrying old newspapers and mumbling to himself. And McHenry comes off as the hilarious yet once rebellious ex-punk rocker waiting on the next prank to pull or beer to down. Whom else would have a CD titled, "Chill Morn He Climb Jenny"? What the hell!!!???
Appearances aside these guys along with their more than able rhythm team of Joe Martin, on bass and Jochen Rueckert at the drums are remarkably a no nonsense ensemble.
Recorded 'live' at the Cornelia Street Cafe the Mac Band from their first very notes on this CD are serious arbiters of some great jazz. 'Moonlight In Vermont' comes off weirdly like a Bill Dixon-Archie Shepp opus. Dry and pale but damn fulfilling. Which bespeaks tenorist McHenry's bold and sometimes pithy death defying solos. The man grunts, groans, squawks and in the same breath reels off these thrilling rapid fire staccato cadences - ala Grossman-Liebman in their Elvin Jones days. McNeil on the other hand is a lingual painter. With a plaintive lyricism McNeil never runs out of fluid ideas and thoughts. And the slate of tunes they've chosen are arid landscapes for their unrestrained interplay. I can think of no one else who would have the where-with-all let alone audacity to play 'Maid In Mexico', 'Batter Up' and 'Bea's Flat', three moldy oldies that get a clean redress here. On top of these the 'Mac Band' pulls out a Wilbur Harden tune, 'Wells Fargo'! The nerve of these guys! They're balls can't be bigger! Nor are their hearts because they do an incredible job. They are breathtaking! This recording is a minor classic from beginning to end.
When talking about 'freedom' in music, or the authentic 'avant garde' - jazz thy name is McNeil and McHenry - the Mac Band!
John McNeil,trumpet/ Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone/Joe Martin, bass/ Jochen Ruekert,drums