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Berkeley Arts (Duende sponsered)

2133 University Ave, Berkeley, CA

November 3, 2012

Tony Malaby week continues – concludes, actually. Great band – Hart, Sickafoose, Malaby . . . Never heard Ettinger before, but with a band like this, he must be good. And he is – great sound to the band, nice, unique instrumentation. And good writing – the tunes all with a distinct mood and element. This was supposed to be a show at Duende – but due to construction delays, it had to be moved. Same story as the Shuffleboil show – which means even though Duende doesn’t really exist yet, it is like the best concert promoter in town – 2 for 2 – and with Yoshis like a carnival of terrible these days, I can barely handle the wait until Duende opens. First time I went to Berkeley Arts (which is where it was moved to, thanks to Philip Greenlief)  – a very nice sounding room – think I’ll go back tomorrow night for Ben Goldberg.

The music – 1st tune and the 1st soprano Malaby’s played all week – and damn! he rips it up on that too – excellent edgy sound to the usually thin and boring instrument. Sickafoose is a man that basically never swings – he plays a modern bass style, all grooves and interaction – a beastly player in his way. Two sets of music – all very good. The 2nd set had 2 high points – Amdigato (or something like that) had a vicious, way out Malaby tenor solo with Hart all busy and interactive underneath. Sickafoose kept giving these funny looks where he would look from Malaby to Ettinger and back, like he was checking if the crazy ass stuff coming out of Malaby’s horn was acceptable or not. Indeed, it was the best music of the night. Torrential train-wreck tenor playing. Love it.

They closed with Kissinger In Space a really cool tune that went from thick groove to spacey out and back – sort of. On its return it felt all fractured and altered as if space twisted HK’s mind a bit. Great deal at the booth – all 3 Ettinger cd’s for $15 – that, I like. A great show, modern and excellent.

1st set

1. Shunyata

2. August Rain

3. Just Like Tomorrow

4. Dogleg 

5. Better Angels

6. Dual Diagnosis

2nd set

1. Talking Leaves

2. Ambigato

3. Harper Lee

4. The Doors Are Closing 

5. Kissinger In Space


TONY MALABY – tenor and soprano sax

JOE PREUSS – guitar


LORCA HART – drums


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


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