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.
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