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Tony Malaby’s Tamarindo: Live

Live has no business being so dull. The Tamarindo quartet comprises four bottomless wells of talent (tenor/soprano saxophonist Tony Malaby, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, bassist William Parker and drummer Nasheet Waits), joining here in a free session at the Jazz Gallery, one of New York’s most avant-friendly venues. It has all the right ingredients, but it lacks both energy and direction, is sometimes incoherent and often just spins its wheels.

What’s most frustrating is that each of the four long tracks offers a glimpse of real inspiration and then throws it away. On the opening “Buoyant Boy,” Malaby follows a shockingly disconnected Smith solo with a strident soprano that locks immediately into Parker and Waits’ groove. But the synergy doesn’t result in compelling lines or even isolated phrases. Smith adopts that same role on “Death Rattle,” and even momentarily sparks Malaby. But they only fade into raspy sighs that resemble distant, listless foghorns more than death rattles. It’s the sound of wasted opportunity.

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