179

Raphe Malik: Speak Easy

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Raphe Malik: Speak Easy Raphe Malik, a master trumpeter who has established his versatility in a variety of improv contexts, turns inward on his new solo record, Speak Easy. Solo trumpet records are a rarity in jazz, and a major challenge to the performer. Malik rises to the occasion and delivers 47 minutes of persuasive music.

The general impression here is a very strong sense of linearity. Malik's performances here are a bit difficult to resolve in terms of composition vs. improvisation, but that's true of most of his work. He intersperses understated themes with a lot of pure improv that reflects an active mind at work. Drawing from swing, blues, and free references, he sails, stutters, and whispers his way along a self-organizing path. Malik is an intelligent player, so his ideas arise rapidly, spontaneously, and often without much notice. But he has the maturity to cultivate them until the point of fruition. Take "Odds Out," the third cut on Speak Easy, for example. The main theme is a sauntering three-note motif, which he interweaves among transpositions and connecting phrases that have a profoundly rhythmic feel. While Malik may not cling to the beat, it's clear that his internal metronome operates here, and it doesn't take much imagination to get a sense that there's an invisible drummer accompanying him. What's most striking is the way he leads or follows the beat, most often engaging in a light swing. That's an element of the tradition that many free improv players have essentially abandoned, but Raphe Malik clings to it like an old friend on this piece.

The overall tone of Speak Easy is moderate. While he has the capability to explore the extreme emotional range available through his instrument, as well as the virtuosity to execute tonal and microtonal leaps of any magnitude, Malik prefers the middle road. Subtlety rules here. For listeners curious about Malik in his undiluted form, this is a wonderful introduction. And anyone who's willing to involve themselves in the music will find the entire disc mesmerizing. But don't even think about using this as background music (or incendiary material), because that's not what it's all about.

Visit Le Systeme Records on the web.


Track Listing: Avenue D; Bell; Odds Out; Good Graces; Cruise Control; Abstract; Float School; Mystery of Human; Tone Row.

Personnel: Raphe Malik, solo trumpet.

Title: Speak Easy | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Le Systeme Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Electric Ascension" CD/LP/Track Review Electric Ascension
by John Sharpe
Published: October 5, 2016
Read "Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)" CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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