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Sean Malone: Cortland

A bona fide Jaco scholar (he transcribed a collection of classic Pastorius solos for the instructional book A Portrait of Jaco, published in 2002 by Hal Leonard), Malone is currently a member of the adventurous prog-rock group Gordian Knot. He originally recorded this eclectic solo debut back in 1996 on the fledgling (and now defunct) label Audioimage Records. It subsequently became a cult classic among bass aficionados, prompting its reissue 11 years later.

The Pastorius influence is clear on pieces like “Controversy,” “Splinter,” “Hand Full of Earth” and the powerful Weather Report-ish number “The Big Idea,” on which Malone’s nimble fretless bass work is a commanding presence in the mix. Other pieces like “Fisher’s Gambit” reveal a distinct King Crimson influence while the ambient piece “At Taliesin,” a collaboration with one-time David Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabrels, strikes more original territory. He plays inventive counterpoint lines through the changes on a cover of “Giant Steps” and tackles Pat Metheny’s vibrant “Unquity Road” with conviction, playing Jaco to guitarist Adam Levy’s Metheny and drummer Sean Reinert’s Bob Moses on a stirring recreation of that signature tune from Metheny’s 1976 debut on ECM, Bright Size Life. For a change of pace, Malone applies some stunning two-handed tapping technique on the Stick in a letter-perfect reading of a demanding J.S. Bach piece, sounding remarkably like a harpsichord player on “Sinfonia” (from the “15 Three-part Inventions”).

Originally Published