To use a rock 'n' roll analogy, saxophonist Tony Malaby is the Mick Jagger to Joe Lovano's Paul McCartney. It's not that anyone has to choose sides, but if the classic Paul Motian band (featuring Lovano) was The Beatles, then Malaby's Paloma Recio quartet is the Rolling Stones.
Without having to choose sides, Paloma Recioor "Loud Dove"has recorded an instant masterpiece of modern music on this self-titled disc.
Malaby, a regular in New York's jazz circles, has garnered a solid reputation in bands like Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, Satoko Fujiis big bands and Mark Helias' projects. He has released several critically acclaimed discs of his own, including Warblepeck (Songlines, 2008), Sabino (Arabesque, 2004) and Twice Told Tales (DIW, 2003) with Louie Belogenis. Last year's Life Between (Clean Feed, 2008), led by his wife Angelica Sanchez with Marc Ducret, Drew Gress and Clifford Allen, was noted as one of the best releases of the year on many lists.
This disc is a well-balanced collection of improvisations sculpted from Malaby's ideas, which he describes as "graphic scores" as opposed to notated events. Unquestionably, that open approach requires a considerate band, and Malaby has assembled one here. With guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Nasheet Waits, the music opens into multiple possibilities.
The West African groove of the opener "Obambo" exemplifies the concept, with waves of energy and rhythms that pass over each other. The music unfolds less as composition and more as flow and improvisation. The job of keeping the music on track is not the sole duty of any one player; it is a group mission. The mellow lyricism of "Lucedes" gives way to the semi-liquid nature of "Alechinsky," with Malaby slurring notes all over the invocation. Waits then pumps the piece up with his maniacal beat, making the tension and release quite invigorating. Same with the inspired "Loud Dove," an outward-pointed composition that gives both Malaby and Monder time to flex some muscle. Both artists are coaxed (seemingly prodded) along by Opsvik and Waits. "Loud Dove" segues into the final two tracks, "Third Mystery" and "Musica Callada," by composer Federico Mompuo, making them into a three-part series.
With this powerful release by Malaby, it will be hard to think, "I can't get no satisfaction."
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Ben Monder: electric guitar; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Nasheet