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.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Le Systeme Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Godspeed" CD/LP/Track Review Godspeed
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 9, 2016
Read "One More Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review One More Manhattan
by Jim Olin
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Unlimited 1, Live at Catalina's" CD/LP/Track Review Unlimited 1, Live at Catalina's
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "The Caustic Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review The Caustic Ballads
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "Blues and Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review Blues and Ballads
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!