How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Saxophonist Tony Malaby is a relentless musical seeker, not content to bask in his growing renown. He constantly works in diverse groups, as both a leader and sideman, often favoring trios because their copious space accommodates his expansive ideas. His approach is contemporary; he seeks partners that are fully active in shaping and interpreting the music, not just a rhythm section to keep time for his solos. On Tamarindo he's found ideal foils in venerable bassist William Parker and nimble drummer Nasheet Waits.
Malaby's six compositions necessitate input, serving as seeds to provoke improvisation as the subtle themes emerge and recede. Malaby's probing tenor opens "Buried Head," with Waits' cymbal rubs and drum ruffs adding color and texture while Parker nearly strums along. He settles into a line that propels the action, though Malaby sustains tones even as the tempo quickens, ultimately switching to soprano sax to unfurl fleet phrases.
He wields the straight horn for tender effect on "La Mariposa," lingering over its subdued rhythm and airiness, poignantly holding the final note. Malaby explores his tenor's range to introduce the title piece and usher in the rhythm section's strolling. The intensity builds with his growling and emotionally pitched phrases, before Parker's bowed solo interjects an ethereal run that eventually returns to the buoyant melody. On "Mother's Love" his upper-register arco is nearly cello-like, before Waits pushes the pace and a rapid three-way dialogue erupts. Staccato strings and dancing drums sway "Floral and Herbacious" after the introductory burbling crescendo reaches its apex with Malaby's trilling.
Tamarindo spotlights Malaby's inclusive approach to group improvisation. Parker and Waits respond to his challenge with engaging performances that avoid cliché, consistently pushing their creativity within the music's loose parametersas does the leader.
Track Listing: Buried Head; Floral and Herbacious; La Mariposa; Tamarindo; Mother's Love; Floating Head.
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; William Parker: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.