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Tony Malaby's Tamarindo: San Francisco, CA, October 27, 2012

Harry S. Pariser By

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Tony Malaby's Tamarindo
Swedish American Hall
San Francisco, CA
October 27, 2012

Long a staple of the New York City jazz scene, Arizona native saxophonist Tony Malaby has appeared with such artists as pianist Fred Hersch and with ensembles such as bassist Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. Malaby made his last Bay Area with LMO at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, but otherwise rarely appears in the city.

Fortuitously for his fans, the San Francisco Jazz Festival brought Malaby, with his Tamarindo trio, to the attractive Swedish American Hall, a large, attractive wood-floored room above the hipster- frequented Café Du Nord on Market Street, near downtown San Francisco.

Taking the stage wearing a wrinkled, long-sleeved blue shirt and jeans, Malaby played an aged tenor saxophone (showing a green patina from oxidation), as well as a newer-looking soprano. To his rear sat drummer Mark Ferber, a former student of the legendary late jazz drummer Billy Higgins. To the saxophonist's right stood well-known bassist William Parker, wearing a red fleece cap, gray vest and a striped shirt atop check pants. Parker first reached a wider audience during the period in which he played with avant-garde jazz pianist Cecil Taylor. He is also well-known for his own work as a leader, as well collaborations with the likes of reed multi-instrumentalists Charles Gayle and Roscoe Mitchell, pianist Matthew Shipp and violinist Billy Bang.

Malaby commenced playing tenor on "Buried Head," with Ferber on mallets; later on the drummer shifted to brushes and Malaby to soprano. Parker fingered his bass and nodded; Mark tapped out a marching beat with his sticks. Things continued on this way during the transcendent 75-minute performance, as the trio performed "Hibiscus," "Floating Head," "Floral and Herbacious," "Mariposa," "Remolino," and "Tamarindo," a theme appropriately named after the trio. Ferber tapped his drums with his hands and played his Istanbul cymbals while Parker plucked and bowed his bass, moving his long fingers right up to the top of the bridge and plucking. Malaby played both tenor and soprano throughout the set, offering short bursts on soprano which headed up into the shrill registers, as well as playing almost flute-like riffs on the horn.

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