Road*Trip is a 10-piece ensemble featuring the compositions and arrangements of Mike McGinnis. From Bill Smith's 1956 Concerto for Clarinet to McGinnis' wide-ranging and adventurous originals, there's never a boring moment. Their debut album was recorded live on WNYC by David Garland for his Spinning On Air show. They have performed at the Jazz Gallery, Barbes, IBeam Music, Shapeshifter Lab and Korzo
"Concerto for Clarinet & Combo" (1956) - Bill Smith
"Road*Trip for Clarinet + 9 Players" - Mike McGinnis
Jeff Hermanson, trumpet
Justin Mullens, French horn
Brian Drye, trombone
Barry Saunders, baritone sax
Peter Hess, tenor sax
Matt Blostein, alto sax
Jacob Sacks, piano
Dan Fabricatore, bass
Vinnie Sperrazza, drums
Featured Episode: "Spinning on Air"
Produced & Hosted by David Garland
How it all happened...
Road*Trip was born when David Garland, host of WNYC radio show “Spinning on Air,” introduced McGinnis to the music of Bill Smith, a Third Stream pioneer who studied with Darius Milhaud and worked regularly with Dave Brubeck. McGinnis sought out a recording of Smith’s 1957 Concerto for Clarinet and Jazz Combo and immediately recognized a mentor and kindred spirit.
“I loved the fact that he was exploring everything within the ‘50s jazz language,” McGinnis says. “I see him as someone who explores the full potential of whatever it is that he’s doing. He’s not just a jack-of-all-trades musician, but someone who learned and explored all these different languages in a real way and who’s not able to fit into one mold. I really connected with him.”
McGinnis determined to record the concerto himself and worked closely with the 86-year-old composer to master the piece, discovering an intricate structure even at its most improvisatory. “There are points where you’re soloing that have very specific parameters,” McGinnis explains. “If you just blow over it openly, it doesn’t really work. There’s a certain way that you have to solo that propels the different sections and gives it a momentum. It made me think about improvising in a more compositional way.”
With that inspiration in mind, and encouraged by Smith to attempt his own concerto, McGinnis composed “Road*Trip” as a complement to his newfound mentor’s magnum opus. The piece was envisioned as a journey for McGinnis and some of his most inventive musician friends, an excursion through different aural environments in which each of the soloists would take their turn at the wheel.
The first movement, “The Rising,” is both an embarkation point and a song of renewal that grew out of the composer experimenting and “messing with” the chord progression of Thelonious Monk’s “Off Minor.” The second, “Settle,” was created during a particularly turbulent period in McGinnis’ life, when he would console himself by playing standard ballads at the piano. The final movement, “Up & Out,” takes its title from the classic film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as the eccentric candy tycoon’s Great Glass Elevator bursts through the ceiling of his factory and into the sky.