Mark O’Leary – On the Shore (CF 091)
I can’t remember a time over the past year that I was affected by a guitar player as much as the playing of Irish string-whiz Mark O’Leary. Though over the years, he’s released a number of solid records for Leo imprint, none have come close to what O’Leary achieves with “On The Shore”. Here, he’s able to create entire landscapes from scratch. When he’s surrounded by ace players – percussionist Alex Cline and trumpeters Jeff Kaiser and John Fumo – there’s a delicacy that is heard rummaging on the surface of the strings of his guitar. His playing is pensive but he’s never unsure of the direction he’s driving the band in. Though on first hearing, O’Leary’s playing may be mistaken for someone like John Abercrombie, on closer listen, one hears a distinct O’Leary style. He’s more forceful and at the same time, plays with more care and delicacy. Kaiser and Fumo work in tandem, trading off trumpet calls in a subtle way, while Cline is best when he resorts to using stones, sticks and shells in his percussive palette. Resulting music is quite moving, without resorting to clichés or working against odds at turning the listener onto something entirely new. The season of O’Leary is long upon us and “On The Shore” will stand as the cornerstone that pushes his music into un-chartered territories.