Bill MacKay, guitar & songs
Bud Melvin, banjo (track 1)
Charles Rumback, drums
Greg Ward, alto saxophone
Kyle Hernandez, bass (tracks 1,2,3,6)
Todd Hill, bass (tracks 1,4,5,6)
All songs published by
Son of Fire Recordings,
Some of the Radio Play Received:
WNUR 83.9 FM (Chicago-Evanston, IL)
KSFR 90.7 FM (Santa Fe, NM)
WPVM 103.5 FM (Ashville, NC)
Illinois Entertainer / Sept. 2005 Issue / by Mike O'Cull
"...experimental guitarist Bill MacKay and his band Sounds Of Now treat us to six original compositions on their self-titled CD performed in quartet, quintet, and sextet formats. MacKay and co. make cool, vibe-filled music with a classic sensibility and will hopefully connect with a wider, jazz-friendly audience. Lounge/free/instro fans, this one is for you."
Bill MacKay & Sounds of Now By Mark F. Turner
Sept. 2005 www.allaboutjazz.com
"Jazz has always been a reflection of diversity and culture. It has grown to embrace the roots of ethnic music originating from global sources. Just as it has flourished in America, its branches have extended to encompass many other musical styles. Some of that can be heard on Sounds of Now, by Chicago guitarist Bill MacKay, who loosely defines the music as "broken" or "garage" jazz (relating the idea of a broken bottle into which various musical elements have seeped).
MacKay, a versatile guitarist, can play in modes ranging from mainstream to modern, as recently heard on violinist SavoirFaire's Running Out of Time. Now performing his own music, the sounds are more melodic, complex, and insightful. Like broken glass, the music glimmers, with its various shards illuminating influences like rock, blues, and folk music. This becomes apparent on "Soul in Violet" as the quartet opens with a picturesque melody colored by the rustic presence of a banjo.
Giving way to a western rural motif, "Illumination" is also marked by soulful playing and nice soloing by MacKay and saxophonist Greg Ward, with slight touches of free jazz and good interaction. MacKay's playing is skillful as he fills the spaces with intricate chords, thoughtful notes, and a pleasing tone on the gentle "Sleepwalking."
Overall the music is balanced by equal amounts of harmony and exploration, and everyone gets time to express themselves. The "garage" presence comes into play on the closing "Serpentine," whose mellow rawness is filled with various textures, phrasings, and layered solos. If this seems a little hard to describe, that's because it is. Like a sponge, modern jazz soaks up a variety of sounds, and interesting and unique recordings like this one occasionally seep out."
Comments by Ben Breitinger
"It reminds me of Paul Klee's work. Especially his painting "Sinbad the Sailor". If I had to describe the album right now, I'd say it's a rockudrama starring Popeye on guitar, Cannonball Adderly on sax, A. Serpent on bass, and Max Roach on drums."
QUOTE FROM BILL:
It was written that poet Arthur Rimbaud was 'a savage in a mystic state'. This appealed to me & his poetry hit my young mind in a heavy way. I also wanted to create something that radiant and clear. At 15 I read Kerouac and Thomas Wolfe and wrote songs by the bridges & rivers of my hometown. With a map-book as guide, I would plan imaginary future trips across South America and other lands that intrigued me. Images from those days still show up in & inspire songs. The topography of Pittsburgh, its industrial yet green wilderness, also had a large effect on me. It encapsulated many polarities of life in a poetic, filmic reality. Our early impressions & preoccupations being inescapable, I have instead headed toward them, aiming for the heart of their enigma. After all, we are our art form.
Bill MacKay spent his early days writing songs and poetry in Pittsburgh, his spiritual hometown. He studied with guitarists Joe Negri and Eric Susoeff, eventually moving on to Boston (playing on the debut of Atomic Café, an avant-rock band led by New York singer-songwriter Drazy Hoops) then Denver, Portland and Chicago in 1998. Here he has performed with reedist Kurt Iselt, bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Mike Reed among many others. He is also the guitarist and did liner notes on Savoir Faire & the Eastside Project's disc Running out of Time (2005) on Delmark Records. Bill has published his writings, composed for films (see below) and studies French, Portuguese and Spanish...among other things.
Hells, Edens & Rhythms (1995)
The Mad Red Trumpets of Despair & the Smiling Leaf of Blood (2000)
Razor Burns (1997)
Over my Dead Bunion (1998). Also co-wrote and performed in this production.
Bud Melvin is probably best known for his gameboy music programming and composition. He also plays several instruments including pedal steel and banjo. He is one of the founding members of the 90s goth-bluegrass band the Country Melvins and has also played with many groups and musicians in the Chicago area, including Jim O'Rourke, Ted Stevens (Mayday), Moonshine Willy, Bosco & Jorge, Slow Planet and The Grave of Nobody's Darling. He performs frequently as a solo artist and is also a visual artist working chiefly in linoleum cuts and gameboy camera. www.budmelvin.com
Started playing drums, congas and harmonica at age 15 in his home state of Kansas. He studied music in Lawrence before coming to Chicago to study jazz composition at Roosevelt University with Kerry Strayer and Tom Garling. Upcoming recording projects include Jason Steele Ensemble featuring Ron Miles and a recording with Josh Sclar summer 2005 coming out on the NCM East label. He has performed with Ralph brown, Vix Brownford (Hutchinson, KS) Keith Johnson, Josh Sclar, Krystle Warren, Solomon Dorsey (Kansas city) Michael Schaumann, Dan Kozak, Tim Cross (Kansas) Laurie Lee Moses, Filip Mitrovic, Wes Owen, Lord of the Yum Yum, Matt Gagnon, bflo 83 (Chicago)
Greg was born in Peoria, IL. He began playing alto saxophone in 5th Grade and received his bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University in May of 2004. He is currently performing frequently in Chicago, touring outside of it, teaching and composing. He is a new member of Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls, and plays with Ernest Dawkins and the Chicago 12, Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, Somebody's Trio, Zyanya and Her Orchestra, Phillip Reed and Rejoice, as well as his own band, the Greg Ward Quintet, which hosts a weekly jam session at the world-famous Velvet Lounge. He is also at work on the musical score for a ballet to premiere in Fall of 2006.
Kyle took up the string bass at the age of ten. After bouncing around Big Ten schools he was awarded a Master's in Music performance from the University of Wisconsin. He has performed with Roscoe Mitchell, Ken Vandermark and under conductors Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim. Recent recordings include Scott Rosenberg's Red and his own rock project Certain Stars. www.certainstars.com
Todd studied with bass legend Richard Davis at the University of Madison before arriving in Chicago. He has played with drummer Vincent Davis, trumpeter Billy Brimfield and currently performs with Chicago alt-country upstarts The Siderunners (recent openers for Reverend Horton Heat and the Violent Femmes) and Beau Barry/After the Big Bang as well as several other groups, gangs, and posses.