Swedish American Hall, SF

October 27, 2012


The first night in what could be Tony Malaby Week, if I do as I should.  He is in the area all week, playing 3 shows with different bands – very exciting. I’ve been making my own mini-festivals these days. This was part of SFJAZZ festival, and I’ve been excited about this one since long before they even announced the schedule and Randell Kline told me they were coming when I was harassing him in Yoshis at the James Farm show. No Nasheet, but still all great players. Ferber I’ve seen with Ralph Alessi in the past, and he’s a great player, but I was surprised to see him in such a free setting. He played great though.

The show was just 2 huge slabs of music running between what apparently were songs (I overheard William Parker giving out the set list afterwards) – and, oddly, they had sheet music, which they even occasionally turned, even though I could find nothing in here that would have needed to have been read – I mean, this was FREE people. You composed this? Really?

David S Ware just died like a week or so ago, and both Keith Cuderbach and I, separately, felt they were channeling him a bit – I personally was hoping for an encore of Mikaro’s Blues, but nope – no encore. Still, there did seem to be a subtle undercurrent of DSW’s music here, especially in the torrential Malaby playing. TM was a force. He has just a gorgeous full tone and never fails to use it – plus, he spend huge amounts of his time playing split-tones, squeals, honks and scronks and just generally all-around noisy music – but it was great. Like a lot of freely improvised music, it has its moments, both good and bad – and although there was nothing even approaching bad, there were longeurs, and then there were stretches of tremendous intensity and wonderful playing. This is music that ranges widely and deeply over all sorts of terrains.

WP is so good – no one really plays the bass like him, or CAN play the bass like him – it’s like putty in his hands, and he molds it into all sorts of things, but always that rich, ringing, beautifully full and deep tone (although this hall is not the best sound-wise – esp for drums and bass). The four night mini-fest continues tomorrow night with Roscoe Mitchell, Tyshawn Sorey and Hugh Ragin. There’s been a couple of weeks like that recently – a wonderful thing.

TONY MALABY – tenor sax