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January/February 2004

Tony Malaby
Apparitions
Songlines

Tony Malaby is an excellent, progressively inclined tenor and soprano saxophonist, possessed of an expressive tone, formidable technique and fertile imagination. On Apparitions (Songlines), his second album as a leader, Malaby fronts a band consisting of the ultra-talented bassist Drew Gress and a pair of dynamic drummers, Michael Sarin and Tom Rainey. The percussion-heavy environment suits Malaby to a T, due in no small part to the two drummers' ability to draw complementary timbres and textures from their kits. Malaby himself is no slouch in terms of tone color. His skill at manipulating the saxophones' timbre enhances his considerable skill at constructing lovely improvised melodies. While he's adept at playing fast tempos ("Fast Tip," for example), Malaby especially excels at slow-to-medium tempo grooves ("Picacho") and free-time collective improvisations ("Mambo Chueco"). Sarin and Rainey work hand-in-glove, and Gress is melodically and percussively inventive. Indeed, the band at times seems like a percussion quartet, so concerned are they with rhythmic interaction. This is no bebop album. It's avant-gardish, but not impenetrable, making it easy to recommend to the serious listener, regardless of his or her stylistic inclination.

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Valerie Trucchia

Tony Malaby

Originally published in January/February 2004
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