Of the many bands that concentrate on so-called free improvisation, this trio may be the best. Many might be called avant-garde (or energy music, or any number of other terms) and there are a few people from more traditional backgrounds who dabble in free improvisationor whatever else you want to call itbut this group's skill and commitment is singular.
With the instrumentation of sax, piano, and drums, it might be assumed that the saxophone would take the lead, but this ensemble presents itself as three equal voices. This works not only in the quiet, thoughtful sections, but also in the extroverted, energetic ones as well. The structure of the music is narrativeconstantly moving forward, telling its story the way a good book or movie develops. Saxophonist Tony Malaby could be considered the most well-known of the three artists, and his work with Paul Motian and Charlie Haden certainly puts him in the big leagues. He can play any kind of music, so his commitment to this group speaks well of his integrity and perseverance; the same is true for Angelica Sanchez and Tom Raineyboth also top notch players who choose to give their amazing creative powers to continuing this group.
"...The Other Ear" features a burning saxophone/drum duet that may have a historical precedent in Trane and Elvin Jones, but this performance is unique as it is strong. After the duet, Malaby's longer tones invite Sanchez's motivic piano playing in a Latin-tinged groove from which the drums emerge. "Pincherama starts with an unaccompanied sax solo, displaying Malaby's skills and ideassometimes complex and sonically diverse, sometimes simple, romantic and lyrical. When one piano chord enters, the scene changes immediately; a sensitive moment with dreamy chords and brushes on skins eventually crescendos into a passionate and intense three-voice counterpoint. This eventually calms down with moaning saxophone communicating with rubbing sounds on drums, fading into silence and leaving us with dream images. A strongly recommended recording and live trio.
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