Steadily increasing his presence among some high-profile groups in New York, including Fred Hersch’s, Mark Helias’ and Paul Motian’s, Tony Malaby has incrementally expanded his reputation to create ever greater awareness of his propensity for exploring unconventional avenues of musical thought. However, Malaby’s improvisational power achieves its greatest fulfillment when he works with one of his trios. Tamarindo provides much evidence of Malaby’s considerable talent and unrestrained immersion into his music when bassist William Parker and drummer Nasheet Waits join him on six of his pieces. All three being equally inflamed by the superheated nature of Malaby’s music, the musicians play freely throughout, exhibiting in the midst of their unified individuality remarkable technical control and unfettered imagination. Moreover, all three confirm their reputations of being creative powerhouses in their own right through the force of their musical personalities, all three of which complement those of the other two. Their levels of energy remain unabated throughout the single recording ses¬sion as they feed off one another’s ideas. The first track, “Buried Head,” starts inauspiciously enough, with Waits’ ding in the center of the cymbal, Parker’s ambling bass lines and Malaby’s tweets and squawks and subdued playing of perhaps a motive. It’s Parker who boosts the dynamism of the playing with quicker pulse and turbocharged intensity, to which the other two respond. It becomes evident that the intent is on-the-spot improvisation, rather than predetermination of direction. The tentativeness of “Buried Head’s” beginning builds on ever-increasing fervor, the musicians express¬ing the passion they feel in the process of playing the music before the final winding down from the ardent beseeching. “Floral and Herbacious” is more motivic, and over Parker’s arco bass work Malaby immediately sets up the six-note haunting pattern that emerges throughout the impassioned improvisations that follow. Indeed, the initial statement of theme leads immediately into a crashing, chattering, rumbling turbulence, though relatively brief, which contrasts suggestion with excitation. Then Parker literally takes over with a solo of such force, still slyly incorporating the six-note pattern, that Waits appears momentarily merely to follow and produce accentuation instead of rhythmic initiative. “La Mariposa,” on which Malaby plays soprano sax instead of tenor sax, not only sounds lighter, but Malaby uses longer tones to allow the sweet sound of the instrument to provide, yes, at time melodies for a great degree of sensitivity combined with, still, leadership. As a capper, Malaby sustains a final high note that can’t be counted in measures but rather in seconds, bringing attention to the fine tone that he projects. The title track appears to be derived from a folkloric theme that describes perhaps Malaby’s experiences in Costa Rica. From the twittering and warbling that goes on initially, he indeed must have enjoyed the sounds of the outdoors there. Loosening his embouchure and swirling through the melody delivered in spurts and outbursts, the calmness, as expected, rises into windswept fury, leaving one to wonder what happened in Tamarindo, or if the thrill arises from remembrance. Nonetheless, the totality of the music made for Tamarindo leaves one impressed by the unremitting commitment of these professionals to the communication of strongly felt emotions that only music can express.
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