Tag Archives: Tony Malaby

Music and More review by Tim Niland

CF 270Ches Smith and These Arches – Hammered (CF 270)
Ches Smith has become a first call jazz drummer over the past few years and in addition to his percussion ability, he has excellent capacity as a composer and a musical conceptualist to match. Developing a large palette of musical colors and rhythms, he creates a wide variety of exciting sounds that are as fresh as they are exciting. This album has Smith on drums and percussion along with Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Andrea Parkins on accordion, organ and electronics. Malaby and Berne make of an thrilling front line, whether playing together in harmony or taking off on scalding solo flights. The rest of the band adds excellent texture to the music, with Parkins various instruments framing the soloists and adding sounds that give a new prospective to the music that is being played. She fills in the role that was traditionally filled by bass but is able to provide a much more varied context. Mary Halvorson is typically excellent, lurking like a predator just beneath the surface of the music and then suddenly bursting forth with barbs of jagged electric guitar. I am very enthusiastic about this album, the music is distinctive with non-stop energy and the musicians are supremely talented and bring the music to life with a kaleidoscope of sound.

Downbeat review by Bob Gendron

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Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

CF 270Ches Smith and These Arches – Hammered (CF 270)
The world of improvised music does not guarantee a predictability. That is what can generate excitement, especially if you are “in on the ground floor,” at the gig or otherwise bearing witness to new sounds, in person or captured in a recording. Ches Smith and These Arches have that “ground floor” feel these days, especially on their new, second release Hammered (Clean Feed 270).  The album features compositions by the leader and the band is of the all-star avant sort: Ches on drums of course, then Tim Berne on alto, Tony Malaby on tenor, Mary Halvorson on guitar and Andrea Parkins on accordion and electronics. Andrea may be a lesser-known member, but her accordion goes a long way to distinguishing this group’s sound.   So what is that sound? It’s avant and very lucid, solid-rock inflected but stratospherically bound. Given the world-class caliber of these improvisers, it is all-over inspired. The compositions and Ches’ forward moving and forward looking drumming give direction and the band follows suit. Sometimes (maybe because of the sound of the accordion but also the compositional spin) it has an almost village folkiness to it, though it gets very outside. If Stravinsky, Hendrix and Dolphy lived in that village, their children might sound like this!!   Everybody has encountered recordings that featured a interesting, even great lineup of players that brought on expectations of great music, then found some disappointment when listening. This is NOT one of those recordings.   There are so many stylistic strains that go into the final makeup of the music, the piecing-together is so well conceived and skillfully executed, yet so unexpected, you need to ear-hear this one a couple of times before you get smitten. And hey, I am smitten with this one.   Ches shows us that he is a bandleader and composer of much talent. I hope this exceptionally supercharged combination of players can keep going as a unit. It is some exceptional sound they conjure before our ears!

All About Jazz Italy review by Alberto Bazzurro

CF 270Ches Smith and These Arches – Hammered (CF 270)
Freschissimo di stampa, ecco il secondo album del gruppo diretto da Ches Smith, dopo Finally Out of My Hands, del 2010. Per l’occasione, si unisce al quartetto-base Tim Berne, e come si capirà facilmente non si tratta di particolare di poco conto. E non è forse neppure il caso di sottolineare che con Berne il giovane batterista ha già inciso il notevolissimo Snakeoil, così come, con Mary Halvorson, un altro dei dischi di spicco della passata stagione, Bending Bridges. Dei gruppi di entrambi Smith fa del resto parte stabilmente. Ecco così che si intuisce come sia certamente il caso di parlare di “cenacolo”. Questo nuovo album non fa che confermarlo. L’iniziale “Frisner,” in verità, risulta meno strutturato dei lavori appena citati (e del resto, più in generale, di quella linea): certe angolosità tipiche di Berne—e in misura minore della Halvorson—appaiono in qualche modo meno sublimate (dall’architettura globale, appunto), nel segno di un incedere che potremmo definire segnato da giovanile baldanza. Una musica sovraffollata, in cui prendono poi il sopravvento, a turno, i sax di Berne e Tony Malaby.

In partenza più lineare, per quanto sempre assai denso, il successivo “Wilson Philip” tende a incresparsi a sua volta, strada facendo, mentre subito più strutturato si annuncia “Dead Battery,” e più ancora “Hammered,” perla dell’incisione, incalzante in avvio e più decongestionato nel segmento centrale, però incamminato verso una tensione montante, persino aggricciata e luciferina, sul finire.

Al breve “Limitations,” di fatto informale, però in possesso di una sua singolare grazia, fa seguito “Learned from Jamie Stewart,” fitto, specie nel rinnovato intrecciarsi delle due ance. Più geometrico—e in ciò, se vogliamo, berniano—”Animal Collection,” che non a caso recupera strada facendo spigolosità care all’altoista di Syracuse, mentre il conclusivo “This Might Be a Fade Out” sfoggia una marcata articolazione tra frammenti più fulminanti, surriscaldati, e lievi (per mole, non per leggerezza) ripiegamenti, benché l’energia ne rimanga l’elemento più palpabile, del brano specifico quanto del disco in generale. Cui magari poteva giovare una migliore messa a fuoco di alcuni passaggi, ma che non per questo può non esser giudicato come il prodotto di un talento limpidissimo.


Jazz News review by Jacques Denis


Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 270Ches Smith and These Arches: Hammered (CF 270)
En Hammered, segunda entrega del proyecto These Arches del baterista y percusionista Ches Smith, el grupo que grabó Finally out of my Hands se incrementa en una unidad con un componente de lujo: el saxofonista Tim Berne. De ese modo, These Arches son en esta grabación Berne, el saxofonista Tony Malaby, la guitarrista Mary Halvorson, y la acordeonista y experta en electrónica Andrea Parkins. Ches Smith vuelve a ser el autor de los ocho temas. Estos son unas composiciones estructuradas en torno a una o varias melodías sencillas (que en más de una ocasión se repiten con un cierto grado de obsesión), algunas de ellas sumamente cantables. Tras su exposición por parte del grupo abren espacios muy amplios para los solos de los cinco músicos. Allí todos ellos se mueven con suma libertad, bien sea en solitario, bien sea en compañía. Tim Berne es una magnífica incorporación, una pareja perfecta para Tony Malaby: ambos protagonizan unos momentos incisivos especialmente brillantes. Mary Halvorson, tal y como ocurría en la anterior grabación del grupo, apenas aparece en algunos temas, aunque en el momento en que empuña la guitarra se hace notar y de qué manera. Andrea Parkins reparte el uso de sus instrumentos entre el acordeón (con el que proporciona un soporte sonoro a sus compañeros) y la electrónica que le permite lanzarse por su lado más libre. Ches Smith está a su magnífico nivel habitual. Sumamente rítmico, es uno de los mejores bateristas de la actualidad, tal y como demuestra en este disco, o en Your Turn, la próxima grabación del Ceramic Dog Trio de Marc Ribot que se publicará en un par de meses.

Free Jazz review by Monique Avakian

CF 270Ches Smith and These Arches – Hammered (CF 270)
Two saxes: one alto and one tenor, and on the recording — one in each ear.  Ches Smith just made my brain the keystone of his group, These Arches! This album, then, perhaps, is as neurologically enriching as it is musically enticing.

The move from quartet to quintet is solidifying for this band. Tim Berne on alto joins Tony Malaby on tenor, and the two carry us into various parallel and perpendicular worlds with dexterity and ease. Fresh and lean, these guys are panthers on the prowl. “Dead Battery,” in particular highlights their inventive contextualization.

Actually, These Arches as a group have several interesting contextualizing habits, many derived, of course, from the members’ high-level jazz improv expertise. Additionally, these five players prove to be confident in their well-chosen moments of rocking out. Last, but not least, These Arches seem especially facile with adventurous choices made in regard to the infusion of multi-cultural folk styles. For example (again on “Dead Battery”), Mary Halvorson (guitar and bass lines) quotes from The Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me,” (itself a re-worked French tune). Almost immediately, she injects a subtle Middle Eastern flavor into the lick. The band responds with layering that texturizes the hell out of the familiar riff, which is quite satisfying. The title track, “Hammered,” is also a good reflection of the band’s strength at melding various rock, folk/ethnic and jazz styles into something not only greater than the sum of parts, but something parting into a summary of something greater.

Andrea Parkins on accordion and electronics takes an interesting position in the band, providing a level of intense, yet restrained, subtlety. And Mr. Smith, on drums and percussion, takes care not to dominate, driving with an egalitarian ease and a lot of sound play.

Beware, though. This band also takes the stance of a big tease, brazenly daring you to come back for more. For example, round about 5:40 on “This Might Fade Out,” Ches Smith lays into a phat, funky rock groove that evaporates almost instantaneously within 20 seconds. Ooooh! Why’d you do that to me? How did I end up in this worm hole? Oh, well, it doesn’t matter because already I am somewhere else, feeling like a campy TV detective driving a 70’s-era Camaro, screeching to sudden stops, spinning into smoky half circles, soaring through the air off rising bridge plates….and, well, yeah!

So, you gotta get “Hammered.” If for no other reason than to wave the CD case in front of your best friend’s face and make that irresistible joke.

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

CF 259Angelica Sanchez – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Everyone knows I tend to rave about Fred Hersch and Jason Moran as my favourite modern pianists. But there are others that are emerging with the same talent and vision as these two future legends. Kris Davis is definitely one of those that I put in the list. Recently I have also been listening another bright and inventive composer, Angelica Sanchez.

Sanchez, now with her forth album (third for Clean Feed), hopefully will find a wider audience. With Wires & Moss, she explores an ever growing lyrical and conceptual structure that is both calm and free flowing. “Loomed” is an expansive piece with various layers of expression, tightly pulled together by Ducret, Malaby and Rainey. Sanchez and Gress play the static calm palate to the trio’s frenetic brushes. But it’s always the leader who carries the tune’s soft undulating notes towards the close.

“Wires & Moss” is a stunning display of rolling melodies. Sanchez’s performance is filled with multiple chord changes and jagged directional cues for the rest of the quintet. Early on, Ducret shines with crafty Arto Lindsay meets Thurston Moore type qualities. The piece moves up, down and outward. The rest of the group approach midway through and it becomes more poetic with each movement. Gress and Sanchez take the band quietly out with some beautiful passages.

Motionless might be the feeling you get from the closing number, “Bushido.” This starts off gently but then moves roughly in staccato motion while consistently holding the listener in place. The entire quintet is scorching on this number and exemplifies Sanchez’s creative vision that she has worked on since setting out as a leader over a decade ago.

Angelica Sanchez writes with a very cerebral approach that puts her in a category of the previous mentioned artist from my point of view. If you haven’t experienced her music before–now is the time. Wires & Moss is absolutely brilliant and highly, highly recommended!

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

CF 259Angelica Sanchez Quintet – Wires & Moss (CF 259)
Angelica Sanchez is officially here to stay. She’s played and recorded with Wadada Leo Smith and others, she put out a very nice solo piano album a while back (type her name in the index box to read my review) and she now returns with a quintet on Wires & Moss (Clean Feed 259).   There’s a warmth to her freedom, compositionally and as a pianist, and it shows nicely on this disk. She’s gathered excellent all-star caliber players in Marc Ducret, guitar, Tony Malaby, tenor and soprano, Drew Gress on contrabass, and Tom Rainey, drums. And she’s put six of her compositions together for the occasion.   This is a band that can solo! And they do overtop the very hip-ly loose straight-eight free doings of the rhythm team.   The result is an extension of what she did/does with Wadada, free jazz-rock going considerably further in sophistication and complex running counterpoint than some of the heavier handed variety out there. Then Angelica will surprise you with some very advanced piano, lyrical and very creative, surprise you because it all fits together in her head but most leaders don’t mix it up quite like this. New music meets meta-groove? Well, yes.   It goes a long way forward, miles ahead ahead. And it’s very original too! Listen to this one a bunch of times and you will get there, in new territory.

The New York City Jazz Record review by Kurt Gottschalk

CF 270Ches Smith and These Arches – Hammered (CF 270)
One might on occasion be given to pause and consider the future of music in the hands of people who have grown up with the history of recorded music just a You Tube search away, in a world we might conceive of as (or even hope will be) post-genre. That generation might well already be looking at such players as drummer Ches Smith to mark the way. Smith has been largely a rock drummer who has booked time with such familiar-to-these-pages personalities as Trevor Dunn, Fred Frith, Ben Goldberg and Marc Ribot.

More central (perhaps) to Smith’s own field of vision are his oddly fascinating duo Good for Cows (with former Deerhoof bassist Devin Hoff), his equally offbeat solo project Congs for Brums and These Arches, a group he leads with the stellar lineup of saxophonists Tim Berne and Tony Malaby, guitarist Mary Halvorson and Andrea Parkins on accordion and electronics. What perhaps holds his contributions to all of these projects together is a fluidity with rhythm – contrasting, overlaid and sliced with the ease of a hip-hop DJ.

Such characterization might be unexpected for a record given the name Hammered, but Smith is as solid as he is nuanced behind the kit and this, the second outing for These Arches, is a rewarding, exciting listen. The band does hammer away at times and in fact several of the compositions – according to Smith – were originally written with a rock band in mind, but they are still roomy enough for healthy improvisation, name checking in its titles such departed influences as Chicago drummer Phillip Wilson and Haitian Vodou drummer Frisner Augustin, suggesting a couple more touch points informing Smith’s work.

With the addition of Berne to the band’s original lineup, the group’s sound is now thick with, well,sound. They’ve crossed that nebulous line between sounding like some people in a room and becoming a blur of group think. In very different ways, Berne and Parkins have traipsed that territory for decades and here in fine company they are continuing to hammer a way at blurry lines.