When COVID-19 hit, Tony Malaby hosted weekly sessions underneath a turnpike overpass near his New Jersey home. (Maybe he was inspired by the famous turnpike in Being John Malkovich.) These gatherings led to The Cave Of Winds, which revisits the lineup of Malaby’s 2000 debut Sabino, but with Ben Monder replacing Marc Ducret.
Malaby would never win the Kenny G Prize For Smooth Jazz. Much more likely would be the Ayler Prize For Rough Jazz. And for a musician whose work is never less than challenging, this new quartet album is as uncompromising as they come.
With Corinthian Leather, it opens – rather amazingly – with a groove. The composition is loosely based on Dizzy Gillespie’s Woody ‘n You – very loosely I’d say. The concluding Just Me, Just Me is a contrafact of . . . but you’ve already guessed . . . with Malaby on soprano, and again the connection isn’t obvious.
In between, Recrudescence seems a rather entropic free improvisation, before picking up in agitation; the title track is 18 minutes of rather reflective improv with Malaby on tenor and soprano. Ben Monder is not a guitarist known for his rock affiliations, but his heavy distortion introduces Scratch The Horse, which is then powered by Tom Rainey’s cavernous rock groove.
An invigorating experience.
Corinthian Leather; Recrudescence; Scratch The Horse; Insect Ward; The Cave Of Winds; Life Coach (For Helias); Just Me, Just Me
Malaby (ts, ss); Ben Monder (g); Michael Formanek (b); Tom Rainey (d). Astoria, NY, 24 June 2021.