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Malachi Thompson: Rising Daystar

Chicago’s Malachi Thompson is one serious brother. I remember when he spent the late ’70s, early ’80s in D.C. He had big lungs, a tone like refrigerator-burned butter and a freaky-styley command of boppoid melodics (think Lee Morgan on sensi and Chivas). That night at the Pension Building when he spoke in so many tongues that his spars in the New York Hot Trumpet Repertory Company (Lester Bowie, Olu Dara, Wynton Marsalis, Stanton Davis) turned Amen Corner while the secular crowd got rapture.

Back in real time, Malachi Thompson macks on with a new Freebop band (Gary Bartz, alto/soprano; Steve Berry/ Sonny Seals, tenor; Kirk Brown, piano; Steve Berry, trombone; Harrison Bankhead/James Cammack/Fred Hopkins, bass; Nasar Abadey/Dana Hall, drums; Tony Carpenter, percussion) and album, Rising Daystar. Feeling their collective hard bopping, free jazzing, Afro-head swinging inner child, Malachi and Freebop get all the way open. Brilliant improvisations and solos-Bartz’s torrid Tranesque soprano in “Mansa” and MT’s insouciant jive samba blip-blaps on “Song For Morgan”-abound, but Rising Daystar’s moment of absolute truth is “Circles in the Air.” Featuring Malachi on speech-scat-sonic extrapolation, Dana in a Rashied Ali cipher, Fred on fingers and bow, the group shape-shifts a multi-layered tonal universe out of (yes) thin air. “Circles in the Air” is majestic blues at its most deeply abstract.

Originally Published