Mo' Animals / Frank Macchia
Featuring Performances by Howard Levy, Billy Childs, Vinnie Colaiuta, Grant Geissman, Dave Carpenter, Wayne Bergeron and Bruce Fowler
Time to journey again with your favorite creatures as Mo’ Animals creates Jazz/World Fusion impressions of exotic animals from around the world. From the dense jungle of Monkeys to the down-home barnyard of Pigs, this compact disc composed and produced by Frank Macchia captures the spirit of these wonderful creatures, along with brilliant solo performances by such jazz heavyweights as Howard Levy, Billy Childs,Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Carpenter, Grant Geissman, Bruce Fowler, Wayne Bergeron, Valarie King, Ken Kugler, Alex Iles, Larry Hall and Tracy London.
A follow-up to his critically acclaimed Animals of 2004, Mo’ Animals features Macchia on saxophones, flutes, clarinets, ocarinas and synthesizers. Says Jazziz Magazine of Animals, “an exceptional contemporary jazz recording by an inventive composer and arranger who deserves comparisons to Gil Evans and Pat Metheny.”
Frank is featured on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, as well as some unusual woodwinds: the bass and contrabass flute, alto, bass and contrabass clarinet, and bass ocarinas. There's even an electric bass clarinet solo! So, whether it makes you see Hummingbirds darting around the flowers, Frogs hopping through the rainforest, or Whales ambling through the sea, this collection of songs is a zoological jazzfest for the ears.
1. (8:25) Hummingbirds - Howard Levy- Harmonica; Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Frank- Alto Sax, Flute, Piccolo, Synths
2. (5:30) Monkeys - Billy Childs- Piano, Synth Accordion; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Frank- Soprano/Alto/Tenor/Bari Saxes, Synths
3. (7:05) Pigs - Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Grant Geissman- Elec. Guitar; Ken Kugler- BassTrombone; Frank- BBb Contrabass Clarinet, Synths
4. (8:55) Bats - Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Valarie King- Flute, Alto & Bass Flute; Frank- Clarinet/Alto Clarinet, Synths
5. (7:23) Frogs - Bruce Fowler- Trombone; Grant Geissman- Elec. Guitar; Frank- Elec. Bass Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo, Synth & Drum Programming
6. (6:09) Whales - Tracy London- Voice; Frank- Bass Ocarinas, Bass & Contrabass Flutes, Synths
7. (4:50) Elephants - Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Wayne Bergeron- Trumpets; Alex Iles- Trombones; Frank- Flutes, Synths
8. (7:21) Chickens - Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Grant Geissman- Banjo; Frank- Clarinet, Alto Clarinet, Synths
9. (4:58) Rhinos - Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Grant Geissman- Elec. Guitar; Ken Kugler- BassTrombone; Frank- Bari & Bass Saxes, Synths
10. (5:45) Lions - Billy Childs- Piano; David Carpenter- Bass; Vinnie Colaiuta- Drums; Wayne Bergeron, Larry Hall- Trumpets; Alex Iles- Trombone; Ken Kugler- BassTrombone; Frank- Sop/Alto/Tenor Bari Saxes, Flutes, Synths
All Music Composed, Arranged & Produced by Frank Macchia
Dedicated to my Father, with love
Tracks 1-4,7-10 Recorded by Andy Waterman at Entourage Studios, No. Hollywood, CA. with Protools assist by Ashburn Miller.
Mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, CA
Music Contractor- Reggie Wilson
CD cover art and back cover photo by Peter Macchia
all the wonderful animals who inspired me! © 2005 Frank Macchia - Cacophony, Inc. - Framac Music- BMI visit www.frankmacchia.net Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
Music Connection Review
by Jonathan Widran
Summary: If the crew aboard Noah’s Ark played jazz, they might have come up with something as wacky as this avante garde collection, which features some of L.A.’s top jazz cats — led by veteran woodwind player Macchia — creating expansive, impressionistic interpretations on the whimsical “Hummingbirds,” the tribal “Monkeys,” the dark “Bats,” and even a regal “Rhinos.” It’s definitely a creative concept, well rendered.
by David Franklin
Multiwoodwinds specialist Frank Macchia is also a skilled composer, arranger and orchestrator for film and television. Mo’Animals is the third album on which he paints convincing musical pictures of members of the animal kingdom through a combination of often unique instrumentation and various musical styles, including jazz, rock and funk. A listener can easily visualize flitting “Hummingbirds,” wallowing “Pigs,” strutting “Chickens,” gliding “Bats and lumbering “Rhinos” as well as the other five species portrayed.
Macchia plays an array of instruments, often overdubbed, including most of the saxophones, several of the clarinets and flutes, the bass ocarina and synthesizers. Various combinations of trumpets, flutes, electric guitar, banjo, harmonics, synthesizers and human voice over a rhythm section of pianist Billy Childs, bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta offer the composer a broad palette.
Aside from its programmatic aspects, Mo’Animals appeals on purely musical grounds. Moods and tempos are diverse, and such elements as form, harmony and rhythm are inventively handled so that the compositions hold the listener’s attention.
Macchia, Childs, harmonica player Howard Levy, trumpeter Wayne Bergeron, trombonist Bruce Fowler and guitarist/banjoist Grant Geissman play strategically placed, well-integrated improvised solos
by Ken Micallef
When was the last time a west coast improv record marketed itself as the perfect compliment to visiting zoos and meeting animal lovers? Titling each tune after a particular jungle or barnyard creature, multi instrumentalist Macchia creates arrangements that mirror said critter’s personality and habitat. “Hummingbirds” darts to and fro like warring hummingbirds (ever seen these birds go at it?) dive-bombing for nectar. “Pigs” snorts and belches over a weird electronic loop before relaxing into a shuffle and a groaning contrabass clarinet endowed melody. “Bats” is appropriately spooky yet lovely, “Elephants” uses an African sounding rhythm and multi-layered trumpets for a twilight caravan feel; “Lions” recalls Blood, Sweat & Tears cruising the Serengeti. Using a band of LA session ringers (Vinnie Colauita, Billy Childs, Howard Levy), Macchia conducts this small ensemble into big band terrain. Recalling Lalo Shifirin or even early Elmer Bernstein (hello Johnny Staccato), Macchia creates music that recalls the complexity of late period Frank Zappa with the melodic allure of Pat Metheny. Sound nuts? Show me your monkey! Visit Frank’s website for free downloads so you can try before you buy, sniff, sniff . . .
by James Rozzi
Having written two entire CDs of original compositions dedicated to animals (Mo’Animals being the second), it’s safe to say that multi-reedist Frank Macchia is an animal lover who inspires animal lovers. The titles of his songs are simple and strange: "Chickens," "Frogs," "Monkeys" . . .
Yet, Macchia’s photo on the CD booklet looks pretty normal: a pleasant-looking middle-aged jazz cat seated with his tenor saxophone. No sign of jungle man, no wide-angle shot playing the blues to King Kong.
Employing a heavyweight cast of West Coast players – including pianist Billy Childs, guitarist Grant Geissman, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and harmonica sensation Howard Levy – Macchia presents 10 of the craftiest, most cleverly amusing jazz compositions heard in some time. Expertly arranged in the tradition of West Coast jazz at its best, Macchia’s multi-overdubbed fare comes alive. Hyperactive chromatic lines merge into an upbeat samba on "Hummingbird." A playful jungle groove swings into an imaginative fugue on "Monkeys." "Bats" features an array of flutes in flight over a 6/8 pulse that periodically suspends time as the tiny creatures pause to alight.
Macchia is proficient at every reed instrument imaginable (and some unimaginable). The man is a total gearhead, a fact most obvious on two of the most memorable pieces. "Whales" is an eerie yet beautiful ode to the gentle giants, featuring Macchia’s overdubbed bass ocarinas, bass, and contrabass flutes. (Every aquarium should have this playing.) "Pigs" is a slop-happy endeavor featuring Ken Kugler’s muted bass trombone and Macchia’s contrabass clarinet. (His numerous clarinets are his strongest suit as per jazz soloing.) Alternating humorous with heady, the evocative sounds of Mo’Animals might be described as a major musical accomplishment masquerading in a monkey suit.
All About Jazz
by Jack Bowers
I looked up “versatile” in Webster’s and there, believe it or not, was a picture of Frank Macchia. (No, not really, but there could have been.) On Mo’ Animals, his graphic “tribute to all creatures big and small,” Macchia plays no fewer than fourteen instruments (fifteen including synths) and handles drum programming when necessary. Oh, and he also composed and arranged the music, produced the album, and released it on his own label. For some reason known only to himself, Macchia invited a number of other musicians to take part, and they do their best to avoid stepping on his toes or raining on his parade. I suspect some overdubbing was involved, as even someone as resourceful as Macchia would have trouble playing so many instruments simultaneously (he plays half a dozen including synths on “Lions,” as many as five on some other tracks).
Whether or not one can place the various animals with the music that depicts them, it’s clear that Macchia has a solid game plan, one that is well executed by him and his stable (pardon the pun) of first-class sidemen. Some of the sounds they produce are straight from the barnyard, others from the jungles, prairies and seas that are the natural habitat of elephants, monkeys, rhinos, lions and whales. To do so, Macchia uses several instruments that aren’t often heard, especially in a jazz context, such as the B-flat contrabass clarinet (quite effective on “Pigs”), electric bass clarinet (“Frogs”), bass ocarinas, bass saxophone, and contrabass flute and clarinet.
On the ethereal “Whales,” Tracy London’s diaphanous wordless vocal is supported solely by Macchia on bass ocarinas, bass and contrabass flutes, and synths. Pianist Billy Childs, bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta provide the rhythm on all selections save “Frogs” and “Whales,” with Childs featured most prominently on the supernal “Bats.” “Elephants,” Macchia writes, is his “homage to the brass voicing style created by Duke Ellington,” and in that he is squarely on target.
While Macchia’s concepts are picturesque and always interesting, the ensemble is necessarily dominant, with solos brief and subordinate for the most part. Macchia solos infrequently, although his mastery of the other instruments is indispensable. Other ad libbers include harmonica player Howard Levy (“Hummingbirds“), trombonist Bruce Fowler (“Frogs“), trumpeter Wayne Bergeron (“Elephants”) and Grant Geissman (electric guitar on “Frogs” and “Rhinos,“ banjo on “Chickens”).
Musicianship aside, Macchia’s resourcefulness and vision is what carries the day, as he gives the listener a jazz version of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals or Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, making his point without storyline or narration. The upshot is clearly off the beaten path but never less than engrossing.
All About Jazz
by George Harris
Soundtrack multi-instrumentalist Frank Macchia, on the heels (or is it hoofs) of his remarkably successful release Animals, has released a fun and stimulating encore performance. Both Animals and its follow up Mo’Animals feature compositions that characterize the animal’s size, shape or disposition. As with the previous release, Animals, there are no dogs on Mo’Animals. This recording is a veritable Noah’s ark of creativity. The band really hams it up on “pigs,” which features Macchia’s snorting contrabass clarinet solo and a chortling bass trombone from Ken Kugler. “Monkeys” really swings, with its tribal rhythms and stampeding horn section. “Frogs” is absolutely riveting, as Macchia’s bass clarinet hops at a crisp clip. Warts and all, it’s not a bad song, even with the drum synthesizer. The rhythm section plays as a tight unit, as on the complex “Elephants.” This song, with it’s thunderous drumming, must have been a difficult tusk to master. “Chickens” clucks in at over seven minutes, giving just enough time for Grant Geissman’s banjo and Macchia’s clarinet to build up to a rousing climax. No one lays an egg on this song! “Lions” has its mane theme stated by a gorgeous, regal brass ensemble. Pianist Billy Childs roars through this piece. All in all, Mo’Animals is great gnus for music fans and showcases the originality of Frank Macchia.
Signal to Noise
Mo' Animals is the third straight release from Frank Macchia that has vigorously flattened me on first hearing. A West Coast composer/arranger/instrumentalist whose CV includes Tony Bennett, Hollywood movies, and television might be initially looked at askance by us avant types, but I'll shuffle play this guy with Sun Ra, Ellington, Gil Evans, and Henry Mancini any day. Macchia's particular genius is how he has molded an apparently vast intake of influences into his own, very distinct universe. As with its predecessor, Animals, the 10 tracks on Mo' are each named for a different animal, and yes, the writing and arranging evoke said animals. But this is no cutesy anthropomorphism – this is wonderfully conceived, beautifully executed stuff.. "Whales," for example, is a ghostly, multi-tracked duet for Macchia and vocalist Tracy London. Using jazz as a basis, it pulls in such reference points as Brian Wilson, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and Nurse With Wound's Salt Marie Celeste. The insane, flute-led melody of "Hummingbirds" throws up a Macchia alto solo that's a glorious mix of free swagger and bebop rigor, while "Chickens" has marvelous, spastic pecking banjo motion by Grant Geissman. "Rhinos" shows Macchia's affinity for Frank Zappa in a wild, electric stomper with a sexy baritone sax solo from the leader, while "Pigs," with its lumbering low end scoring and contrabass clarinet, can't help evoke Anthony Braxton's writing for the nether registers. The breathtaking hues of "Bats" resonate with a striking wash of color, akin to Henry Mancini's great "Lujon," from 1961. Headphones are recommended to hear the full range of Maccia's fertile imagination, but by all means listen.
by Jim Santella
Highly original, Frank Macchia’s ensembles deliver straight-ahead jazz with a few unusual twists. When was the last time you sat down and listened to a bass ocarina, a contrabass flute, or an electric bass clarinet? Fortunately, the leader blends his large array of woodwind instruments into the fold, allowing his original compositions to flow with mainstream sounds that seem quite familiar. In fact, many of the selections have the sounds found in popular television themes, but without aping. Excuse the pun. Complex time signatures and exotic melodic themes allow the composer to heighten interest while embellishing with a relaxed attitude.Macchia has considered both instrumental textures and musical themes in portraying his animal subjects. "Pigs" features the Bb contrabass clarinet in a slow swinger that rambles around the room with a laid-back spirit. "Chickens," on the other hand, features clarinet and banjo in a quirky affair with walking bass and a soulful strut. The 11/8, 10/8 meter of "Frogs" keeps things hopping with a fun-loving approach that features Macchia’s electric bass clarinet in a surreal adventure. He captures the voice of the frog through his deep-throated instrument, while the piece drives with the rhythmic intensity of a few dozen of the creatures leaping into the water as you approach. The majestic 10/8, 12/8 groove found in "lions" comes complete with a big band sound anchored by Macchia’s tenor saxophone.From San Francisco, the woodwind virtuoso and composer attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating in 1980. Since ’92, he’s remained in Los Angeles, where he composes film and television scores. That’s why his jazz scores seem to so familiar. Many of the pieces take on the essence of a favorite cartoon character or a lovable sitcom fall guy. From the wordless vocals and deep, bass woodwind instruments of "Whales," to the helter-skelter drama that Macchia exposes on "Rhinos" through his baritone saxophones’ character, Mo’Animals offers a superb showcase of jazz impressions suitable for framing.