Tony Malaby TubaCello – Scorpion Eater (CF 318)
Malaby’s TubaCello quartet with tuba player Dan Peck, cellist Christopher Hoffman and drummer John Hollenbeck improvises on broader material that is also more otherworldly in design. “This band has a different type of gravity that playing with a bassist simply doesn’t have. I just want to be embedded in that and be in the middle,” Malaby has said. With a drummer/ percussionist as strong as Hollenbeck, everyone’s game rises a notch, allowing the leader in particular to go for musical broke.
Hollenbeck plays trashcan percussion in the fluttering “Bearded Braid”, Malaby croaking like a disturbed morning dove as tuba utters dance-like growling notes. “Buried” recalls old school Chicago swing set afire, Malaby repeating a bluesy phrase as Hollenbeck swing/stalks and cello bobs; Malaby paints engrossing, historic imagery here, like David Murray juking mad in a New Orleans brothel. “Trout Shot” takes yet another turn, Hollenbeck hitting his floor tom in a sparse cadence as Malaby and Hoffman trade interweaving scrawls, all giving way to swashbuckling brushwork and scattershot inside jokes. The lovely title track closes the album, Malaby showing his gentle side, practically mewing soft notes to swooning cello. With Malaby you’re never sure what you’re going to get, but he is surely capable of delivering it all.