Free Jazz review by Joe Higham


Tony Malaby’s – Tamarindo Live (CF 200)****½
This is anthill music. Yes, that’s what I said, anthill music, and you’d be right to ask what Tony Malaby’s Tamarindo and anthills have in common. Well, have you ever spent a lovely afternoon lazing around having a picnic somewhere out in the countryside? And if so maybe you lounged around after eating, staring into the grass or field around you, and as time passes you notice you’re sitting on (or near an anthill). Gradually you become engrossed and start to watch those ants running around (probably picking up your left-overs) in what seems utter chaos. Little by little as you watch you notice patterns forming, ants crossing paths without ever colliding, never an argument (as ants don’t have road rage), so much happening, so busy. At times the ant rush hour slows only to build up again as other ants appear communicating something to their comrades which then renews the energetic bustle. They carry on their tasks in a way which become almost an art form, and what may seemed disorganised at first starts to take on form and order.

And that is why Tamarindo is anthill music. It’s very much a music which buzzes with a frenetic pulse often building from nothing, each player seemingly takes his own direction and yet as the music advances you realise that everybody is following everyone else. It may sound like chaos to someone walking into the room, but when you’re ‘in’ the music it’s very exciting, full of energy, and yet with so much going on around you it’s never crowded. In fact there’s so much here to discover that you will certainly have to listen many times before really knowing the music.

It would be difficult (and maybe pointless) to single out different tracks as this album could be heard as a suite, and even if the tracks do have names and approximative themes that appear when needed (i.e. not always sax and trumpet, and not always as openings), they seem less important as it’s more about capturing the moment. There are often quite moments of interplay such as on ‘Death Rattle’, ‘Hibiscus’ and in ‘Jack the Hat’, but much of this music boils away with fantastic interplay (as always) between these superb musicians – Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano sax), William Parker (bass), inspirational drummer Nasheet Waits and of course guest trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith.

The only odd thing is that the CD fades on the last track, perhaps they couldn’t stop, or was there just too much good music to fit onto this release?

Tags for this excellent release could be – Mujician, Ornette’s Science Fiction, The Thing, Vandermark 5, Supersilent (an acoustic version …. of course).
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