316

Russell Malone: Live at Jazz Standard, Volume One

Victor Verney By

Sign in to view read count
Russell Malone: Live at Jazz Standard, Volume One Russell Malone usually doesn't like to write about his recordings, he says, preferring instead "to let the music speak for itself." However, he makes an exception here to point out that this is his first live recording with his working band, a fact that's a little surprising to learn. Malone goes on to note his gratification at being able to make this recording at the Jazz Standard, terming it "one of the finest venues in New York." (Incidentally, several top-shelf CDs recorded there have been reviewed at AAJ.)

One of the great things about a live recording is the opportunity not only to hear the interaction between performer and audience, but also to follow the evolving dynamic of a combo as it moves through a performance. This dynamic can be heard most dramatically on this disc, recorded in early September, 2005. Starting out with a fairly well-behaved number that would have little trouble finding airplay on smooth jazz radio stations, Malone's quartet progresses through increasingly up-tempo tunes to a finale that turns downright rowdy.

The opening tune, "He Said What?," alternates between a three-chord bossa nova vamp and a B section with lush chording. This seems to be a compositional structure favored by Malone: "Flirt" has a similar A/B structure—a spare piano leitmotif alternating with rich diatonics. Both tunes feature the tasteful piano work of Martin Bejerano, who sits out for "I Saw You Do It," which combines bluesiness with atonality for an end result that sounds a bit like Wes Montgomery meets John Scofield. Displaying Malone's trademark fluidity and lyricism, it also features a sprightly solo by bassist Tassili Bond.

The next two songs pick up the pace. Frank Rosolino's standard "Blue Daniel," one of two covers, is an energetic swinger with another nice solo by Bonds. "Mean Streak" is flat-out blistering, with impressive solos by Malone, Bejerano and drummer Jonathan Blake.

As if to gather themselves for a final blow-out, the musicians slow down for a hauntingly beautiful rendition of the Milt Jackson ballad "Heartstrings." Evidently, Malone doesn't like to talk much between songs either, but he makes another exception here with a personal testimonial to the song's composer, no doubt due to the presence in the audience of Jackson's widow, Sandy, and their daughter Chyrise.

A critic for the LA Times has described Malone's great strength as his ability to synthesize influences from many sources and produce results that bear his own voice. The kick-ass finale, "Malone Blues," provides ample evidence for this assertion. Malone's solo opening section, after a hint of bluegrass, goes on to evoke Richie Havens and Mississippi John Hurt, before embarking on an unabashed blues romp. At one point, the band enthusiastically cranks out a riff that—whether intentionally or not—is a dead lift from Frank Zappa's infamous "Willie the Pimp"!

This release, which was produced by Malone, not only showcases his versatility as a musician, but also his talents as composer, arranger and bandleader.


Track Listing: He Said What?; I Saw You Do It; Flirt; Blue Daniel; Mean Streak; Heartstrings; Malone Blues.

Personnel: Russell Malone: guitar; Martin Bejerano: piano; Tassili Bond: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Title: Live at Jazz Standard, Volume One | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: MAXJAZZ


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read Good Merlin CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "50" CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Welcome to Swingsville!" CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "Lello's Italian Job, Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Lello's Italian Job, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Color Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Color Tones
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.