Russell Malone played a week-long engagement at Jazz Standard in November, ostensibly to promote the release of this album. Malone was backed on both ventures by the solid rhythm section of bassist Tassili Bond, pianist Martin Bejerano and drummer Johnathan Blake.
A lyrical, inventive guitarist, you can almost see Malone thinking out loud on the bandstand. And once he's formulated his ideas, it's full speed ahead, with dazzling rapid-fire arpeggios and single-note lines punctuated by octaves. He brightened the straight-ahead "I Saw You Do It with humorous quotes from "Jeannine and Branford Marsalis' "The Ballad of Chet Kincaid. "Flirt was featured on both live sets, an Asian-tinged ballad on which Malone displayed a wonderfully light touch on.
The sprightly "Blue Daniel began as a waltz, then shifted into a wiry mid-tempo groove with lovely solos from Malone, Bejerano and Bond. "Mean Streak, based on the changes of "Fine And Dandy, was an up-tempo free-for-all, Malone racing along, playing with daring and coherence, the rhythm section right with him, inspiring each other in the process. The lovely rendition of Milt Jackson's "Heartstrings had a special poignancy because Bags' widow was in the audience. Malone and the quartet, already ignited, played with added tenderness and emotion.
The CD ends with the gutbucket crowd-pleaser "Malone Blues. When Malone played this at the live show, he had as much fun as the audience, switching from bluegrass to blues to funk and launching into a few bars of "Purple Haze at the end. Also performed were "Sweet Georgia Peach, a jazzy version of the Isley Brothers' "For the Love of You." So it seems that the recent gig was not only to promote Live, Vol. One but to present material for another one, something for Malone's fans to anticipate.