Since arriving in NYC about 15 years ago,Tony Malaby, through a series of fortuitous (and well-chosen) associations (including Marty Ehrlich and Mario Pavone, among others) as well as spots in Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra and William Parker's Little Huey Orchestra, has proven himself an adroit sideman, whether the concept is tilted toward the avant-garde or aimed straight-ahead. Since his debut fronting a quartet in 2000, he has demonstrated himself to be a daring leader on a variety of small-group saxophone projects.
One of those early associations was with drummer Tom Rainey who anchors the rhythm section with bassist Drew Gress on Voladores, a session that might otherwise be a run-of-the-mill trio affair if not for the presence of John Hollenbeck, who's credited with percussion ranging from traps to "small kitchen appliances." Malaby calls his band Apparitions and, aside from the opening track, an Ornette Coleman composition, the band is elusive in their attack. They pump on "Old Smokey," but the tune's stuttering tempo and touches of marimba and vibes create a dreamy atmosphere. On "East Bay" the mood is set with Gress' arco bass and Malaby's soprano. But on tenor, Malaby doesn't let up, whether dirty on the title cut or relentlessly inventive on "Dreamy Drunk," he is as convincing and fresh a voice as there is on the scene.
Stéphane Kerecki is one of those composers who hears Malaby's sound in his head and Houria marks the third meeting between the saxophonist and the French bassist's trio. As one would expect, the bass is frequently in the spotlight, but it's Malaby along with Matthieu Donarier on tenor and soprano who generate the most interplay (the Kerecki/Malaby duets, mere interludes, are too short and leave the listener wanting more). On "Satellise" the tenors orbit one another while on the title track and "Macadam" it's soprano and tenor in conversation. This is a pretty CD in the best sense of the word, its compositions varied and influenced by music of the world, but very much in the jazz tradition. And while the sweetness calls for a great deal of soprano, Malaby turns in his most purely beautiful playing on tenor for "Un Ange Passe."
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Homogenous Emotions; Old Smokey; Dreamy Drunk; Can't Sleep; Sour Diesel; Los Voladores; Are You Sure?; Yessssss; Wake Up, Smell the Sumatra; East Bay; Lilas.
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums; John Hollenbeck: drums, percussion, marimba; vibraphone; xylophone; glockenspiel; melodica; small kitchen appliances.
Tracks: Macadam; Un Ange Passe; Houria; A L'Air Libre; Palabre; Duo 1; Suite for Tony; Fable; Duo 2; Satellise; O Sacrum Convivium; Duo 3; Secret d'Oreille.
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Matthieu Donarier: tenor and soprano saxophones; Thomas Grimmonprez: drums; Stephane Kerecki: bass.