Pete McCann, a ridiculously versatile guitarist, takes his varied interests to extremes on this Omnitone debut. McCann's third album as a leader is his most diverse collection of songs yet. He explains his stylistically unbound aesthetic this way: "I like music; I like all different types of jazz.... I love it all. I don't like to be pigeonholed into one category. I don't even know why you should really have to be."
With a wide range of styles at his command, McCann ventures forth on acoustic Brazilian ballads, classic post-bop swing, jazz-rock fusion, and even some flat-out heavy metal shredding. His bandmates prove themselves up to the challenge with chameleonic accompaniment suited to whatever stylistic mood the mercurial McCann engages.
Saxophonist John O'Gallagher employs a tart, round tone with a brisk delivery to parry McCann's electrified, linear bop runs. Like a cross between Kenny Garrett and the late Julius Hemphill, O'Gallagher's spirited attack spurs on McCann during his more impetuous journeys. Equally capable of following the leader's billowy statements during introspective moments with soulful, restrained lyricism, O'Gallagher proves the perfect front-line partner.
Guest pianist Mike Holober sits in occasionally and is in tune with McCann's more romantic, lyrical flights, as on "Las Tias." But he can swing too, as his fleet bop solo on "Rack 'Em Up" demonstrates.
The rhythm section of ubiquitous bassist John Hebert and drummer Mark Ferber modulates effortlessly from delicate support and ebullient swing to pummeling rock rhythms. For a "jazz" rhythm section, they demonstrate remarkable conviction during the more metal-oriented tunes, including "Yes, My Friend" and "JM." Trading his clean, traditional hollowbody sound for squealing heavy metal distortion, McCann's searing tone and accompanying fretboard histrionics might not fly with conservative jazz fans. Those accustomed to a steady diet of rock music, however, will find his excursions in these genres not only thrilling, but authentically raw and unbridled.
Musicians who traffic in multiple genres across a single album run the risk of losing listeners in an eclectic haze. McCann engages numerous styles with dedication and aplomb; no genre is plied for mere affectation. For those who see beyond musical boundaries, Duke Ellington's famous quote is apt: "There are only two kinds of musicgood music and bad." Pete McCann makes good music, regardless of genre.
Personnel: Pete McCann: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; John O'Gallagher: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; John Hebert: bass; Mark Ferber: drums, percussion; Mike Holober: piano.