Three Mikes, or two Mikes and a Michael if you prefer, for the price of one as it were. In a Wayne Shorter mood I was just going to jump into Mike Drop and start on 'Miyako' the seventh of the 9 tracks from the Herbie Hancock Thrust legend Mike Clark here along with gutsy tenor and soprano saxophonist Michael Zilber, pianist Matt Clark and double bassist Peter Barshay. But beginning at the beginning and delaying the anticipation of their cover of the tender Schizophrenia (Blue Note, 1967) number I was hooked above all on the 'Passion Dance' groove begun by a mini-masterclass drum solo from Clark that is something of a melody miraculously unto itself shaped towards jazz-funk. That is the best thing on the whole album. Mike Clark is an unbelievable drummer and adds loads of ideas to the McCoy classic.
You won't have heard the classic played in the same way guaranteed certainly the drum part. Check Clark out all over again on 'Actual Proof' (Herbie Hancock, Thrust, Columbia 1974) and more recently and in a different context on Michael Wolff's Live at Vitellos issued this year, one of the best of 2021. Bassist Barshay lays down a great riff here too on 'Passion Dance' although perhaps his sound could have been more upfront in the mix as his rich tonality seems to be itching to sound even beefier.
After the fireworks of the early tracks 'You Know I Care' rearranged given the instrumentation so sounding different to the Honeybuns (Atlantic, 1966 release) flute-flavoured nonet version just for that seems tame but isn't the more you listen. Lennon and McCartney's Blackbird' is easygoing to be fair and perhaps takes the heat out of the record and The Beatles theme is continued with 'Norwegian Wood.'
And so to 'Miyako' the track that I'd been most looking forward to. Zilber certainly opens the band's version well and the version works. Mike Drop also includes Zilber original 'Barshay Fly'. You'll have bought into this album by the time you get to 'Monk's Dream' and 'Falling in Love With Love' and while these, hand on heart, are the least successful tracks that does not matter because of the persuasiveness of the early blaze. SG