Raphe Malik

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This date brings together trumpeter Raphe Malik, bassist William Parker, saxophonist Sabir Mateen, and drummer Denis Charles in one of his last recorded performances -- he died the same year. Malik, well-known for his work with the Cecil Taylor Unit, is an improviser concerned with the outer limits, but not at the expense of what has evolved into Western musical architecture. He picked the right band because the versatility of each man in this ensemble is well-documented. In this live setting, Malik showcases his compositional method that integrates these two seemingly opposite poles. One listen to either "Ghost Dance" or "The Gift" reveals that, in Malik's world of sound, there is plenty of room inside for each territory to breathe and grow. The opener, "Dominant Predicate," showcases the ensemble exploring this inner space of Malik's. Charles is the one creating all the space by making a drone of his drums; he completely lays off the cymbals for the first six minutes and then plays his ride cymbal in another drone for the remainder of the tune. Mateen uses his technical expertise in oscillation, circular breathing, and scales to engage Malik, who plays counterpoint to it all. Parker keeps the band guessing, moving further into this groove before bursting out explosively with a series of strummed chords about halfway through. On the aforementioned cuts, as well as the closer "GG" for trumpeter G.G. Gryce, composition presides over improvisation. It merely creates a melodic framework for a modal architecture to begin as the players examine, question, and resolve their own harmonic issues with Malik's text. It's a debate course with everybody coming to the same conclusion simultaneously. It's a great sendoff for Charles, and a solid look at Malik as a composer.

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