Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz

November 1, 2012


The second show in my self-proclaimed “Tony Malaby Week” – my own festival grouping Taramundo, this and (hopefully) John Ettinger Group in Berkeley on Sat. I drove down after leaving work early – not a bad trip, and entirely worth it for a show like this (or Vijay Iyer/Hafez Modirzadeh, which I saw a month age) – even got a $3 burrito at happy hour down the street. Really excited that this band was coming  – I love his album Deluxe – and why not to Yoshis? Because Yoshis is evil these days (with the throw-back to old days exception of the wonderful Roscoe/Tyshawn show last week). 

Ches Smith is a player that I’ve never seen but his name is popping up with a lot of the out players these days (the likes of Tim Berne and Darius Jones) – he’s a good player – nice drummer with good sound and involved ideas. The two tenor frontline was awesome. An unusual choice, but a great one – they played beautifully together, in long unison lines and in some sort of modern counterpoint with one playing a melody of sorts and the other trilling or squealing or playing against the tune. Just very cool, good stuff.  Malaby has an enormous tone – so rich and dominating that it wasn’t really that easy, at first, to hear Bishop in the mixup (a player I haven’t heard before).  But he took  a couple of great solos – building really well up from sparse to modern clusters and wailing. Good player.

Lightcap is a great writer – I really like the tunes that he writes, and most of the concert  was new, unrecorded tunes written for NYC, with 2 late tunes from Deluxe – Silvertone and The Clutch. Seen Mitchell a few times recently – a very good player, he played a lot of Rhodes here, and quite well, really popping off that dissonant, glassy sound.

Malaby plays like a fast approaching train – all these huge wailing onslaughts of sound with a side-to-side rocking feel. He plays what sounds almost like non-solo solos, where the solo doesn’t build in phrasing or twisting intricacy, but in wailing walls of thunder. With a band like this, playing great tunes, it sounds very cool indeed.

The last tune, well – it seems this set was being recorded for npr’s ‘Jazzset’, and then also for npr’s Toast of The Nation, their New Year’s show where they travel around the country with jazz clubs on New Year’s Eve – so, after the show, we had to pretend it was New Year’s Eve, with the countdown and all, and they ripped a rockin tune – no idea what it is, though it sort of sounded familiar – possibly from Deluxe with an Ornette-y horn line. Fairly hilarious in its random events – and my kind of New Year’s Eve – great music and no one even knows it’s a holiday.


1. 9 South

2. Arthur Avenue

3. Epicenter

4. Whitehorse

5. Down East

6. Fort Triumph

7. Stillwell

8. Silvertone

9. The Clutch

10. New Year’s Encore (sort of) 

TONY MALABY – tenor sax

ANDREW BISHOP – tenor sax

MATT MITCHELL – piano, Fender Rhodes


CHES SMITH – drums