Like John Coltrane, Tony Malaby is a tenor saxophonist who occasionally picks up the soprano. That's about as close as the two men get in terms of playing style or musical approach. Malaby's lines don't have much of the heartfelt spiritual questing of Coltrane, or Wayne Shorter; instead, he adopts the extended techniques of the AACM and modern improv players, using a range of fluttering tones and squeals more reminiscent of the work of Roscoe Mitchell or Evan Parker. When balanced against the approaches of his three bandmates on this date, the contrasts are quite interesting and occasionally revelatory. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is as interested in silence and space as he is in playing notes; his trumpet melodies frequently slur and become viscous, and his sense of rhythm is unique in jazz. Bassist William Parker is as powerful as ever on this live date, seeming to nearly tear the strings off the instrument's neck as he keeps the band moving forward. Drummer Nasheet Waits is dexterous and subtle, swinging aggressively on the opening "Buoyant Boy" and the closing "Jack the Hat," accenting the free-time ballads "Death Rattle" and "Hibiscus" with a sensitive touch, but never playing anything clumsy or forced. This is the kind of set -- four long tracks, some quite forceful and others earnestly murmuring -- one can hear in New York on almost any night of the week. It's the quality of the performances, which are empathetic and collective in the best possible way, that jumps this CD out of the pack and makes it well worth hearing.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman