Outing - Road Trip II

SSC1719 2024-02-16

Track List

Rollover - 8:40
Incantation - 1:51
Transformations - 9:10
A Nice Boy / Discover Laughing - 5:39
Stand In the River - 1:28
Roundtable - 9:06
The Gospel of Bone Drye - 8:27
Shiny Stockings - 6:12


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 Sperrazza - drums

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.