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January/February 2005

Raphe Malik Quartet
Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club
Boxholder Records

Raphe Malik's Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club (Boxholder), a previously unreleased recording from 1984, follows hot on the heels of the excellent Sympathy, a new Boxholder date featuring Malik with Joe McPhee and drummer Donald Robinson. As Ed Hazell writes in his liner notes, Last Set lets us hear Malik roughly five years after he left the Cecil Taylor Unit, at a time when he had yet to record as a leader. Joined by Frank Wright (1935-1990) on tenor sax, William Parker on bass and Syd Smart on drums (all of whom had worked with Taylor as well), Malik stretches on three original pieces (nearly an hour of music), sounding brash and inventive. The recording is rough but full-bodied and clear. "Sad C" leads off, in an angular minor mode and at a medium tempo; Parker does not walk but rather wanders all over the beat, setting up a remarkable give-and-take with the leader that reappears on the closing blues "Chaser." Sandwiched in between, the half-hour-long "Companions #2," a much faster free piece, begins with brisk tenor musings from Wright. When he isn't playing, he is yelling-not words, just pure energy.

Originally published in January/February 2005
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