Tony Malaby’s Apparitions – Voladores (CF 165)
Since arriving in NYC about 15 years ago,Tony Malaby, through a series of fortuitous (and well-chosen) associations (including Marty Ehrlich and Mario Pavone, among others) as well as spots in Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra and William Parker’s Little Huey Orchestra, has proven himself an adroit sideman, whether the concept is tilted toward the avant garde or aimed straightahead. Since his debut fronting a quartet in 2000, he has demonstrated himself to be a daring leader on a variety of small-group saxophone projects.
One of those early associations was with drummer Tom Rainey who anchors the rhythm section with bassist Drew Gress on Voladores, a session that might otherwise be a run-of-the-mill trio affair if not for the presence of John Hollenbeck, who’s credited with percussion ranging from traps to “small kitchen appliances.” Malaby calls his band Apparitions and, aside from the opening track, an Ornette Coleman composition, the band is elusive in their attack. They pump on “Old Smokey,” but the tune’s stuttering tempo and touches of marimba and vibes create a dreamy atmosphere. On “East Bay” the mood is set with Gress’ arco bass and Malaby’s soprano. But on tenor, Malaby doesn’t let up, whether dirty on the title cut or relentlessly inventive on “Dreamy Drunk,” he is as convincing and fresh a voice as there is on the scene.