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Outing - Road​*​Trip II

by Mike McGinnis + 9

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Rollover 08:40
Incantation 01:50
Roundtable 09:06


24 bit / 96k

On his new recording, Outing – Road Trip II, Mike McGinnis and his 10-piece jazz ensemble pay tribute once again to the legendary clarinetist and composer Bill Smith whose commissioned piece “Transformations” is debuted and featured along with McGinnis’s dynamic recent works.

A decade ago, McGinnis put together an ensemble to tackle a chamber jazz composition written by Smith. The 10-piece group became a vehicle for an engrossing project of composing original music for a mid-sized group, resulting in the album Road*Trip. McGinnis initially heard about Bill Smith from an episode of David Garland’s legendary WNYC radio program “Spinning On Air” that featured some of the clarinetist’s “Concerto for Jazz Clarinet,” a side long feature on Shelly Manne & His Men’s Vol. 6 album from 1957, which happened to feature a mid-sized chamber jazz ensemble.

McGinnis was struck by Smith’s command of the tools of composing and orchestrating, becoming deeply engrossed in the piece. Fortunately, the sheet music was available, so McGinnis was able experience playing the Concerto himself, he still felt like he was missing something important in his rendering of the piece. Through some connections with musical colleagues in Seattle where Bill Smith was based, McGinnis was able to spend four days with Smith learning about the how the piece was composed and about how to perform the solo part, which is mostly improvised.

When McGinnis remarked that the piece was great but not long enough for an entire concert, Smith suggested that he write his own piece to accompany the Concerto, which led McGinnis to compose “Road*Trip for Clarinet and 9 Players” which highlighted McGinnis’s compositional abilities and stellar clarinet playing.

Wondering what Bill Smith might pen for his McGinnis’s own group, he reached out to the older composer and commissioned a piece. Smith’s resultant, “Transformations,” is a difficult twelve-tone piece built on three different tone rows but done so masterfully that it remains contrapuntal and harmonically lush. “Transformations” became the centerpiece of McGinnis’s Outing, which was recorded shortly before Smith’s passing in early 2020.

The music that McGinnis began to create for his “Road*Trip” band mirrored the aesthetics of composers for similarly sized ensembles that he most enjoyed, most notably Django Bates and Carla Bley, whose work was not only drawing from a wide variety of influences but always full of surprise and unapologetic humor. So, when setting out to write new works for his group, McGinnis thought it would be exciting to feature and challenge the musicians in his group, which includes trumpeter Jeff Hermanson, alto saxophonist Caroline Davis, tenor saxophonist Peter Hess, baritone saxophonist Barry Saunders, trombonist Brian Drye, French horn player Justin Mullens, pianist Jacob Sacks, bassist Dan Fabricatore, and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza.

The recording begins with a bang on McGinnis’s “Rollover,” a piece he had originally written for a quintet. The piece contains shifting meters, including a tricky 1/8th note addition at every measure, and a random dissonant chord throughout the comping of Sacks’s solo. Utilizing a practice he learned from heroes Steve Swallow and Art Lande, McGinnis begins his recording session with freely improvised pieces. “Incantation” is the first such performance with McGinnis only providing the instruction of when the other soloists should enter and the vibe that he wanted to create. Bill Smith’s aforementione “Transformations” is followed by McGinnis’s “A Nice Boy/Discover Laughing,” the former being a march-like theme song for the band that refers to his grandmother’s regular affirmation for doing well and the latter a short vehicle that utilizes purposeful silences in an effort to catch drifting listeners.

For the next improvised piece and palate cleanser, McGinnis gave the band the title, “Stand In The River,” which they interpreted their own way, while his “Roundtable” is a bluesy showcase for the band that presents each instrumentalist as a soloist. McGinnis had trombonist Drye in mind when he wrote “The Gospel of Bone Drye” for a commission in which he wrote four pieces about four emotions. “The Gospel” represents “joy” and what better way to convey that than with a gospel tinged send up with vocal style trombone as a feature. The recording concludes with McGinnis’s arrangement of Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings,” a piece that he dedicates to his former teacher, Bill Street, who had introduced him to the piece.

The Mike McGinnis +9 chamber jazz ensemble began as an agent to perform a piece by the remarkable Bill Smith. The ensemble then became an outlet for McGinnis’s experiments in composing. It is fitting that his follow up recording, Outing – Road Trip II, takes a new Bill Smith piece along for a ride with McGinnis’s latest works.


released February 16, 2024

Mike McGinnis - clarinet
Jeff Hermanson - trumpet
Caroline Davis - alto saxophone
Peter Hess - tenor saxophone
Barry Saunders - baritone saxophone
Brian Drye - trombone
Justin Mullens - French horn
Jacob Sacks - piano
Dan Fabricatore - bass
Vinnie Sperranzza - drums


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Mike McGinnis New York, New York


  • May 7
    New York (NYC), NY

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