Jazz was meant to be recorded live on the bandstand. It is spontaneous music ruled by improvisation and invention in real time. There exist precious few bad live jazz recordings. This is a ready indication of the high quality of musicianship jazz requires for proper performance and the necessity of said jazz musicians to think quickly on their feet. MaxJazz has been making it a point to capture its artists in live settings and has done so with unparalleled success, continuing to do so with guitarist Russell Malone.
Where Russell Malone channeled Grant Green on the first half of this live set, Live at The Jazz Standard, Volume One, the guitarist comes fully into his own on Live at The Jazz Standard, Volume Two. There is only one real "standard in the set, Malone's shimmering take on Irving Berlin's "How About Me. The remainder of the recording is all Malone with some thoughtfully selected vehicles.
The disc opens with Malone's angular "Mugshot, which provides the guitarist with ample space for chord soloing as well as single note runs. Pianist Martin Bejerano is featured and drummer Johnathan Blake carpet bombs the piece, softening up the audience for what is to come. The Isley Brothers provide Malone a sleigh ride with "For the Love of You which Malone arranges for a major mainstream treatment. Malone's perfectly round tone is exercised completely here.
The biggest and most pleasant surprise is Malone's grappling with Rex Koury's "Theme From Gunsmoke. This performance can only be compared with Sonny Rollins' interpretation of "I'm an Old Cowhand on Way Out West (Contemporary, 1957). It is an inventive romp through an unlikely melody that the guitarist navigates creatively. Brightly performed Malone originals "Playground and "Sugar Buzz close out this satisfying conclusion to Malone's September 2005 stay at New York City's Jazz Standard.
Mugshot; For The Love Of You; Theme From Gunsmoke; How About Me?; Don't Point That Over Here; Playground; Sugar Buzz.
Russell Malone: guitar; Martin Bejerano: piano; Tassili Bond: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.
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