148

Malachi Thompson: Talking Horns

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Malachi Thompson has long been a fixture on the Delmark label roster. This disc marks his tenth try with the label. The majority of his previous recordings have been hit and miss affairs and past problems are the probable product of single label stagnation alongside a sometimes-scattershot track record with material and supporting musicians. Arguably his strongest band and program to date, this latest entry is a step above earlier efforts, but still suffers from a certain unevenness.

Thompson is the principal tunesmith on the date, but Bluiett and Lake also contribute several pieces. The band opens things up with an ardent tribute to Woody Shaw couched around a dark-tinged theme reminiscent of the style of forward-thinking hard bop favored by the deceased trumpeter. Limbering up further on Lake’s “Brass and Oak” the horns, led by the composer, cycle through a series of melody-based improvisations. Thompson’s intonation seems to slip a notch in several spots during his say, but the errors are minor. Bluiett honks out one of his subterranean R&B riffs on “Way Back When We Didn’t Understand,” shifting to streaking altissimo whistles for his bout on the heartfelt homage “Fred Hopkins.” The title track is an overlong vehicle for the leader alone and Thompson, through the use of overdubbing, chimes in on an array of instruments with only qualified success. The leader’s brief bout with self indulgence proves that the group is at its best when it dispenses with pretense and simply commences to blow. Such is definitely the case with the Thompson original “Lucky Seven,” built on the strong foundation of soulful solos from each of the horns, Pickens and Nicholson.

Using the liners to take Ken Burns to task for his revisionist Marsalis-centric take on jazz history he illustrates among other things Chicago’s proper place in the music’s historical development and the true importance of the avant-garde. The sextet’s music (built upon the myriad of traditions of which Thompson writes) is a natural extension of these prose-channeled corrections. Still, his treatise comes off as somewhat disjointed and ill timed, kind of like the eleventh-hour stone-thrower who arrives at a stoning after the victim has already been beaten into submission. While there are moments where a ‘going-through-the-motions’ mood invades, there’s also a great deal of enjoyable music on this disc and making it worth a listen. Thompson’s track record with Delmark may be a sketchy one, but there’s no refuting the passion he harbors for the music he’s made his life’s work.

Delmark on the web: http://www.delmark.com


Track Listing: Woody

Personnel: Malachi Thompson- trumpet, sekulu, cowbell, woodblock, shakers, voice; Oliver Lake- alto saxophone; Hamiet Bluiett- baritone saxophone, contrabass clarinet; Willie Pickens- piano; Harrison Bankhead- bass; Reggie Nicholson- drums. Recorded: March 2-4, 1999, Chicago, IL.

| Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "New Normal" CD/LP/Track Review New Normal
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 7, 2016
Read "Between Brothers" CD/LP/Track Review Between Brothers
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 29, 2016
Read "The Stone House" CD/LP/Track Review The Stone House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Americana" CD/LP/Track Review Americana
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Heartaches By The Number" CD/LP/Track Review Heartaches By The Number
by James Nadal
Published: May 13, 2016
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 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!