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The old and the new come together on Warblepeck, saxophonist Tony Malaby's first CD as leader since 2003. Malaby has played previously with multi-instrumentalist John Hollenbeck, defining new paths and trajectories through music that has stirred and stimulated the senses. Neither of them had worked with Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello and electronics), who has made his own impact as an improvising musician. The triumvirate in place, Malaby wrote music that would draw the cello into a new creative spell, also including compositions from others for the CD. The overall result makes a strong impact that springs not only from the harmonic core, but also from the way in which the musicians elevate a tune with their fertile imaginations.
Malaby pulls several elements from his schematic bag. "Sky Church" rides on Hollenback's light percussion, the detail scattered by Lonberg-Holm and Malaby. The trio's conversation spurs ideas on the quick, with response being core to the dialogue as its thrust and parry moves into shadow and light. They find intensity as easily as they do calm, which they blend seamlessly. Freedom finds its fount in structure with all three letting their creativity drink consummately from it.
Cohesive freedom and intuition are the hallmarks of "Chicotaso," as disparate strands weave into a whole. Once the tapestry takes on a cogent shape, the trio sets about daubing individual colors. Malaby digs deep into tonality with his hard phrases becoming the cornerstone. Lonberg-Holm greases the movement with swift, slithering lines and Hollenbeck frames the beat with a judicious use of space.
Bill Frisell's "Waiting Inside" is set alight with radiant warmth. The trio brings in a chamber music quality built on Lonberg-Holm's cello, with Malaby gently introducing the theme. The ensemble lines are pure, pulsing from the appealing melody and as the trio stays within these vestiges, the composition is given new lifeblood.
Empathy and adventure make for music that is vibrant with texture and pulsating with emotional power.
Track Listing: Warblepeck; Jackhat 1; Two Shadows; Waiting Inside; Fly On The Wall/Remolino; Anemone; Anemone Vamp; Sky Church; Scribble Boy; Jackhat 2; Chicotaso.
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello and electronics; John Hollenbeck: drums, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, melodica, small kitchen appliances.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...