Guitarist Michael Anthony makes it a point to recognize the people who have influenced him along the way.
That’s why on his newest CD, The Sands of Time, you’ll find a dedication to his first guitar teacher, Jimmy Wyble, who played with Barney Kessel, Red Norvo, Benny Goodman and The Texas Playboys. That’s why his upcoming concert and CD release party will be dedicated to another influential musician, Les Paul, whom Anthony finally met two years ago. And it’s why the new CD exists at all: “To honor the new bass player,” he says, referring to Robert “Milo” Jaramillo.
By honoring others, Anthony reveals his own generous spirit and ultimately honors himself, and you can hear that spirit in play Thursday night at the Outpost, when The Sands of Time makes its official debut.
The Michael Anthony Trio picks up where his Natural Instincts Trio left off. Although the new group is headed in much the same direction as the previous one, the motor has a slightly different sound. That’s because Jaramillo, a well-known local player, joined Anthony and drummer Andy Poling two years ago when David Parlato retired from the music scene.
“The new trio feels great,” Anthony says. “When you have great musicians, it’s not that it feels better or less in any way. It takes on a slightly different voice. Milo has an amazing feel for Latin, an authentic Latin bass feel, and he’s a great jazz player. Great talent, great technique and a beautiful sound. He’s able to embrace whatever mood prevails in the room—or the music, for that matter.”
Judging from The Sands of Time, Jaramillo has quickly acquired full membership in the Michael Anthony Telepathic Society. Its charter members—Anthony, Poling and Parlato—were known for their sensitivity to one another’s playing, and Jaramillo has tuned right in.
“The trio—I’m very excited about it. It plays like butter,” Anthony says.
The new CD offers evidence to corroborate the guitarist’s claim. As you might expect from any Anthony venture, the music swings as lyricism holds sway. Big, luscious chords offer balm for the ears and satisfying puzzles for the brain—somehow, an orchestral presence hovers within six strings and a hollow box of wood.
The material covers a lot of ground. There’s the bossa feel and fresh chord progression of the title track. There’s a killer Steely Dan–esque version of “Midnight at the Oasis” and a romp on Gigi Gryce’s bop tune “Minority.” The surprising Cahn/Brodszky confection “Be My Love” and the savory “Route 66 TV Theme” get equal time. Anthony even pairs an original blues of his own, “M.A.’s Blues,” with Charlie Parker’s “Relaxin’ at Camarillo.” Along with three other covers, Anthony originals explore samba grooves (“Samba 5”), contemporary harmonic pathways (“Silent Fury” and “North Star”) and reflective moods (“Mirage”).
Anthony plans to feature material from the new and previous CDs at the concert—standards, Latin tunes, originals “and the blues, of course,” he says.
Les Paul, who passed away on Aug. 12, will also have a prominent place.
“He was my first guitar hero,” Anthony says, “but I’d never met him.” Two years ago, realizing that Paul, then 92, would not be around forever, Anthony “took the pilgrimage” to the Manhattan jazz club Iridium, where Paul appeared every Monday night. Anthony and Paul enjoyed a long conversation, and Paul signed a 1947 book of his for Anthony and then invited him to sit in on “What Is This Thing Called Love?”.
“I can die in peace,” Anthony says. No doubt his fingers will sing Paul to his rest on Thursday night.