Raphe Malik


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Trumpeter Raphe Malik, who cut his teeth with the Cecil Taylor Unit in the 1970s, is featured here with a longtime comrade, bassist Cecil McBee, and a young yet unbelievably gifted Cody Moffett on drums. Though all ten selections have names, this is an all-improv studio date in which title and number have no importance, and a series dialogue in which the rapport among players builds over the duration of the disc. Malik is one of the most lyrical free improvisers in jazz history. His encyclopedic knowledge of Eastern and Western musics is nearly unsurpassed, as is his exhaustive knowledge of modal harmonics and blues intervallic colorings. As for Malik's abilities as a leader, he is a master at developing dialogue among players -- given McBee's experience and the aggressiveness of Moffett's drumming, there are tensions that are resolved within the lyric proposals set forth by Malik. "Minimal Blue" is the standout track for its seemingly innocent and simple 12-bar structure. Underneath McBee's apparent stroll, microharmonics are slipped in between the skittering clusters of cymbal shimmers and tom-tom breaks. Malik triple times the band, smattering his bright notes over the entire palette and creating a wash of color and texture before the entire tune shifts into a vanguard bebop number that touches on "Cherokee," "Relaxin' at Camarillo," and a few Horace Silver tunes and Lee Morgan riffs, all of them tumbled through Malik's prismatic melodic invention. This is as fine a trumpet disc as one is likely to find amid the current crop, and an auspicious coming together of three fine soloists for the purpose of exploring the darker, richer, and more purple edges of the blues.

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