AMN Reviews: Pat O’Reilly – Three Sheets to the Wind (2019; Gold Bolus)

Despite its title, there is nothing inebriated about Pat O’Reilly’s Three Sheets to the Wind EP. Instead, it falls into that winning category of short bursts of energy – an album that says its piece with authority then steps aside.

O’Reilly has a storied history that probably is worthy of further exploration in the future. For now, it suffices to say that he is a composer and improviser who currently works for the New York Philharmonic, and has played punk, rockabilly, world, and modern classical music.

Three Sheets to the Wind consists of four deceptively complex tunes centered around O’Reilly’s compositions, but includes improvisational elements as well as post-recording manipulations. O’Reilly plays drums, keyboards, and amplified berimbau, David Whitwell is on trombone, Adam Forman contributes vibraphone, Joe Fee provides bass, Chad Walther is on tuba, and Max Alper supplies electronics.

Two of the pieces, Dehydrated Doom Jazz and Belligerent Extension, are layered free improvisations that ultimately have a composed feel – perhaps due to post-hoc studio processing. On the other hand, Trio TBD Remix features O’Reilly, Whitwell, and Walther playing in a structured fashion that is both intricate and catchy. Whiplash for Dads rounds things out with the full group playing chamber jazz that explores tonalities.

At right around 15 minutes, O’Reilly’s offering is a tease of what we might eventually hear more of on a longer release. And such a follow-up would be welcome given the unusual and compelling qualities of this album.

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