Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tony Malaby's Novela: Interesting Larger Band Arrangements of Malaby Pieces by Kris Davis

Tony Malaby's recent release with his nine-member Novela group (Clean Feed 232) gives us a broader view of Malaby's music than might be typical of his recordings. The four-reed, three brass (including baritone sax and tuba) front line-up provides a rich mini-big-band sonance. Kris Davis arranges the Malaby pieces and plays piano. John Hollenbeck's drums add percussive drive.

All the Malaby compositions have been recorded previously on other albums. The new Kris Davis arrangements allow latitude, freedom and collective/individual solo time. And they present Malaby's musical ideas in very full sound.

The results are quite impressive. Malaby, Attias, Badenhorst, Hadro, Alessi, Gerstein and Peck make the horn section sing and effectively straddle the free limberness with the compositional structures invoked for each particular piece. Ms. Davis's arrangements give lattitude but also flesh out the critical melodic-rhythmic-harmonic scaffolding that supports and founds each piece.

It is excellent work, ambitious and exciting, well wrought and spontaneous at the same time. Very much recommended.

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