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Published: 2009/04/06
by Brad Farberman

Flashbacks – Barney McAll

Extra-Celestial/Scrootable Labs

When the veteran alto saxophonist Gary Bartz (Max Roach, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis) asks you to join his band, you do it. Even if it means relocating to New York City from your native Australia. Which is what it meant for the terribly talented pianist Barney McAll in 1997.

But it seems to have been the right move for McAll, who has since joined the ensembles of trombone titan Fred Wesley, other trombone titan Josh Roseman, and Groove Collective. Plus, he’s been spotted with the late tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, the very much alive tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, and the expat guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel (he made Rosenwinkel’s Heartcore tour). So New York ain’t all bad.

And neither is McAll’s latest outing as a leader. Flashbacks, in fact, is all good. Especially if you’re into that genre of music known as “jazz and rock put together that is also sometimes funky and is always easy on the ears because the players are good and the tunes are dynamic and interesting.” But even if you’re not, you might still dig this record. Because you like good music.

The disc-opening “Elegua Dictate” inches along at a slinky Head Hunters pace until six-string slinger Rosenwinkel (present here on seven of the eight tracks) enters and sets fire to the proceedings. The eastern-sounding “End of Things Start of Things” is a dynamic and carefully arranged piece that views itself from a variety of vantage points: full-band meditation session, just double bass (Drew Gress) and piano, another ripping guitar solo (Rosenwinkel again). And the brisk and soulful “New Eyes” would have fit nicely on a Curtis Mayfield album. But the virtuosity of the players aside, you’ll want to pick this one up for the compositions. Running the gamut from rock to jazz and everywhere in between (and other places, too), the songs are the real stars on this record.

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