Barney McAll – Release The Day

Release The Day
Barney McAll
(Transparent Music – 2001)
by John Barrett

Some music is a painting; this is an hourglass. Textures rise and fall, new patterns emerge … and it all happens slowly. For its first two minutes, “Thirty-Three” is soft and silent: faint tribal drums, an insistent bass pattern. McAll lays a big piano chord and goes silent, letting the echo drift away. He repeats a few times and Kurt Rosenwinkel sneaks in, his notes sly and metallic. Two saxes glide in; Gary Bartz sounds like a muted trumpet! First Gary floats, then he warbles up high, and then he screams like Coltrane – and Kurt helps him out. Peter Apfelbaum has a similar approach on tenor; his tone is good but the ideas are slow coming. McAll returns for a cerebral solo, and the horns start a riff, built over the final seven minutes. This progression seems inevitable, even eternal … and it conveys the peace that term implies.

Desert heat pours from “Reciprocal Night”: Kenny Wolleson bows a bass drone, while an Indian flute purrs in the distance. Behind this, a poet reads; Julie Patton has an expressive voice, though I don’t think much of her verse. Bartz dance a fine bolero on “Obalata”: his encircling lines rest on McAll’s sour chords. There’s a sense of foreboding, and Gary responds by blowing tougher, going faster. Bells bounce around, and feedback soars – spy music for the sweltering city. To unwind, you “Release the Day”: the horns are warm and the groove is sweet. Moving between organ and Fender Rhodes, Barney serves up ‘Seventies soul-jazz, straight from the corner bar. Bartz is ready: shifting between two notes, he finds a nice riff and runs with it. The tune is smoky, and built to last all night. What’ll you have?

“No Go Die” is caught in a time paradox. Barney and Kurt are psychedelic, with echo loops and big reverb. Meanwhile, the horns pop an old R&B riff – both halves are good, but they don’t fit together. “Tanzanian Folk Melody” is a mass of wooden flutes, a slow reggae beat, and a dancer squealing with joy. (That’s Julie, and her yell is delightful.) And “Daria” is lovely reflection, staring into the winter sky. Barney keeps the sustain down and punches chords … the sound is chilly and introspective. Once in a while a flute cries, but mostly Daria is left in her beautiful solitude. A good player, McAll’s strength is his composition – the tunes are like films, minus the pictures. Close your eyes and enjoy; this is music you feel.