On Fall Night, his second release as a leader, saxophonist Mitch Paliga showcases his well-defined soprano playing on seven of his original compositions. The Chicagoan is joined by keyboardist Jo Ann Daugherty, guitarist John McLean, bassist Patrick Williams and drummer Ryan Bennett.
The music on Fall Night has accessible leanings without sacrificing room for spontaneous development. Paliga tends to compose tightly-phrased, tonal themes atop intricate rhythms and dense harmonies. The simplified character of tunes like "Shadow People" and "Small Town Episode" give way to well-developed improvised bursts, conceptually sound and brilliantly executed. Paglia's adventurous spirit as a soloist is evident throughout the session with firm displays of solid technique and patient playfulness.
McLean has a remarkable way of playing the most atypical guitar lines followed by greasy, blues-drenched string bends. What's more impressive is how the guitarist maintains his unique voice while adhering to the integrity of the variety of musical styles represented on the disc. From countrified twang on "QP Doll" to over-driven punch on "Over and Over," McLean's improvisations are consistently fresh and exciting.
One of the more appealing characteristics of the disc is Daugherty's inspired Rhodes playing. Her sparse, clustered voicings and dazzling solo lines give the music a floating quality; lush without needing to completely settle in. Williams and Bennett keep things grounded while providing a creative rhythmic pulse.