Mark O’Leary – On the Shore (CF 091)
Guitarist Mark O’Leary has more than one way to create a musical statement. His two releases on Ayler records (which we covered in the last few months) were duets with drummers, flat-out “blowing” sessions, opportunities to lay down a barrage of intense, rapid passage work, to create long, flowing lines that synched with multi-valent percussive tangents. Those two releases were impressive for their consistently high levels of invention.
An earlier session contrasts dramatically the Ayler recordings. “On the Shore” (Cleanfeed) comes out of a 2003 date and has a different, slightly unusual lineup of O’Leary with Alex Cline on drums and the dual trumpet tandem of Jeff Kaiser and John Fumo.
This is music of a more contemplative bent, a more atmospheric, spatially sprawling set with supercharged electric work as well as more fragile sequences where every note cluster is surrounded by a bit of air, an emptiness that sets off the musical substance, as white on an abstract canvas can make the patches of color come forward dramatically.
The ensemble makes good use of the color combinations available to it: muted versus straight horn, electric versus acoustic, propulsion versus quiescence. . . .There is much of merit to appreciate on this recording. It’s another excellent example of O’Leary the musical artist and shows the more structured side of his conceptual gifts. As Con-Ed advertised many years ago when they were ripping up the streets of New York, “Dig We Must.” Well, I must. The music compels me. You have a choice. Clearly Mark O’Leary is fast becoming an important guitarist to dig.