Tony Malaby / William Parker / Nasheet Waits – Tamarindo (CF 099)
More than just an outstanding example of trio chemistry, Tamarindo represents a bold statement of unity for New York jazz. Saxist Tony Malaby and his supporting cast, bassist William Parker and drummer Nasheet Waits, are three of the busiest, most sought-after players in town. But since the musicians run in different circles—Malaby with avant-boppers like Mark Helias and Angelica Sanchez, Parker with a host of free-jazz luminaries, and Waits with progressive mainstreamers such as Jason Moran—it’s surprising to see them teaming up.
If the band had any stylistic kinks to work out, they’d long been resolved by the time this debut was recorded. Malaby’s sympathy with Parker in particular is unmistakable. The leader favors minimal, folkish lines infused with a poignant hoarseness. When Parker employs his bow, as on the ghostly “Mother’s Love,” he achieves a kindred sort of gritty luminescence. In fact, the entire record evokes a feeling of common ground. The headlong yet ultrasubtle opener, “Buried Head,” is a masterful example of group dynamics: Even during the piece’s tensest moments, you can sense each player listening hard to the other two. Overall, the disc resembles ’60s-style free jazz shorn of bravado and with a drummer well versed in sophisticated swing. There’s room for tightening in these lengthy excursions, but the trio’s avoidance of stylistic tics proves that bridging local microscenes is very much the right idea.