Malachi Thompson: Timeline

Malachi Thompson comes across so smart and direct in Timeline’s liner notes that one would hesitate to say anything negative. Actually, Thompson saves those so inclined the trouble: he is quite unsparing in his own self-assessment, offering the earlier tracks here in the spirit of documentation of a work by a young man who hadn’t fully developed. His playing is pretty strong, even on track one, and continues to develop as we move through the years from 1972 to 1988. But I will admit that I prefer the more avant-garde settings to the tracks that combine funk, Latin and more standard approaches. When he’s doing this, I find myself noticing that everyone is doing just a good job; but when he’s playing free he just knocks me out.

While the focus is on Thompson, and particularly on his excellent trumpet work, the contributions of tenorman Carter Jefferson deserve special mention.