Pete McCann - Pay For It On The Other Side

Label: McCannic Music, 2018

Personnel – Pete McCann: guitar; John O’Gallagher: tenor saxophone; Henry Hey: keyboards; Matt Clohesy: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.


Guitarist Pete McCann has been heralded as a convincing voice of the contemporary jazz guitar world, showing the skills to combine hard rock, blues, and post-bop in a legitimate manner. His latest record, Pay For It On The Other Side, is an extremely versatile work that features some of the brightest musicians on the scene, cases of saxophonist John O’Gallagher, keyboardist Henry Hey, bassist Matt Clohesy, and drummer Mark Ferber. Together, they bring ten McCann compositions to life.

Suffused with those vigorous energies that no one is indifferent, the title track is a pressurized exercise with a steamy rhythm and temporary swinging verve. The mercurial improvisations have its starting point with McCann, who throws ardent phrases like flaming arrows, and then proceeds with O’Gallagher, owner of a portentous technique that allows him to create mightily articulated phrases of irrefutable quality. They deliver again on “Is April Okay?”, a contrafact of the jazz standard “I’ll Remember April”, which, following a similar style and structure, also features a final vamp so that Ferber can put his personal signature in a bouncing rhythmic declaration. The only variance in regard to the opening piece is Hey, who enriches the latter composition with spot-on flurries within an elegant phrasing.

Guitarist and pianist team up for a blistering collective improvisation on “Cookout”, a flamboyant piece with a scintillating bebop tempo, while the overt blues is exerted on “Mud Flap”, an urban Scofield-esque piece that brims with distorted guitar riffs and an attractive keyboard groove. Also, “Floor Three” is a 12-bar blues in six, which, despite displaying McCann and Hey in great shape, is completely shaken by O’Gallagher, who pours his guts out with a fiery solo.

Recalling Stevie Wonder in some of its passages, “Yonder” is drenched in R&B and soul-pop and features McCann playing acoustic guitar. He reutilizes this instrument on “Indemnity”, a delicate ballad.

Advocating for versatility, the band mutates completely on pieces like “Nikhil”, an Eastern-influenced song that also draws from the prog rock genre to homage the classical Indian sitar player Nikhil Banerjee; “Polygons”, a beautifully intriguing rock sensation that flows with a 5/4 feel and features the bandleader in a powerful metal-like solo; and “Conventional Wisdom”, an energetic jazz funk that closes out the album with wha-wha effect and a progressive jazz touch.

Exploring the full range of possibilities, McCann shows a fierce sense of independence regardless of the numerous styles that influence his compositions. His skilled bandmates provide the right elasticity for his music to thrive with focus, brio, and motivation.

       Grade  B+

       Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Pay For It On The Other Side ► 06 - Polygons ► 09 - Floor Three