New York Guitarist Pete McCann releases Extra Mile, a new solo album of daring but accessible compositions rooted in jazz. Nineteen-Eight Records is proud to present Extra Mile, the fourth solo album by New York guitarist and composer Peter McCann. He's joined by alto saxophonist John O'Gallagher and Henry Hey on keyboards, as well as his long-time collaborators bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Mark Ferber. These ten originals demonstrate McCann's deep roots in jazz while allowing him to branch off into the diverse sound-worlds he's loved since his youth. A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, McCann's musical tastes proved to be cosmopolitan from an early age. He took it all in: Led Zeppelin, country classics and contemporary classical. However, his love for jazz was born at a summer camp in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. "I went there when I was in seventh grade, and I had a chance to watch professional musicians on stage; they looked like they were enjoying themselves so much, and the experience made me want to explore what they were doing." In junior high school, a University of Wisconsin teacher developed this burgeoning interest. "He heard in me that I was hungry for something, but I still had to find it." His love of the music eventually took him to the University of North Texas's excellent jazz program where he studied with Jack Petersen, one of the originators of the Berklee Guitar Program. McCann, who had been playing guitar since the age of eight, began earnestly to listen and woodshed in equal proportion, absorbing everything from the post-bop of Wes Montgomery to the stunning note manipulations and timbral invention of John Scofield, John McLaughlin and Bill Frisell. In 1989, McCann made the move to New York, the home of so much music history and innovation. "I kept hearing musicians talk about it, I heard about all these groups that were there, and I knew it was where I had to be." McCann would go on to work in many contexts, with artists as diverse as Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider, two of the musical forces that have influenced his conceptions most deeply. However, his compositional style exists in a place apart from these formidable models. The tracks on Extra Mile present as many challenges as they do infectious grooves and beautiful band deployment. From the opening moments of the first track, the slickest harmonic twists and turns are tempered by swinging rhythms that admirably avoid cliché. "Fielder's Choice" has a fairly complicated chord sequence at the heart of it's conception, but it slides by with the calm assurance of the outfielder in full command of his game. The title track inhabits a similar space, but it's slower gait leaves room for each note to bloom. The blues-inflected vibrato-laden licks that usher in McCann's solo on this slow-burner bespeak consummate musicianship and deep feeling, subtle volume fades belying the Frisell influence as chords are nailed and whisk up the fret board with controlled abandon. McCann and O'Gallagher breathe as one, often resembling a single instrument in more reflective moments. Ferber, Hey and Clohesy provide gorgeously relaxed but tight support, punctuating every off-beat with pithy fragments of rhythmic and modal complexity. Far from a 10-movement dirge, the album offers up stealthy movers like "Angry Panda." Taken from the affectionate name given him by his two sons, the track lopes to life with Ferber laying down a double-time groove. Tasty distortion threatens to boil over as Allan Holdsworth comes to the fore in McCann's shredding solo. The tune is also one of several vehicles for Hey to enter Jan Hammer territory, demonstrating his wizardry on effected Rhodes as the tune reaches highest volume and sonic saturation, just before the dissonant melody reasserts itself. Like the many subtleties in McCann's playing, the disc is full of surprises. There is the wistful beauty of "Pi," an acoustic duet between McCann and Clohesy in which harmonic intrigue is always in the service of a spritely rhythmic core. Then, there's the album's closer, "Rhodes Less Traveled," a rocker whose titillating metric shifts are never forced, even when the melody gets momentarily pan-tonal. Again, Hey stretches out on Rhodes, and he's as convincing on the instrument as he is thoughtful on the acoustic piano. He lays back, providing cushions of modal support while McCann screams and power-chords. It's a fantastic conclusion to an album whose diversity and complexities never overshadow the joy of music-making that McCann has sought to make his own for so many years. His band is with him every step of the way; words cannot describe the fun and feeling throughout, so best to just sit back and enjoy! - Marc Medwin.