AMN Reviews: Tony Malaby – The Cave Of Winds (2022; Pyroclastic Records)

At first blush, this quartet outing featuring veterans Tony Malaby on sax, Ben Monder on guitar, Michael Formanek on bass, and Tom Rainey on drums might come across as yet another New York creative jazz album. That it is, but such a brief representation necessarily misses the mark.

The recording includes material exhibiting wide ranges on both the inside / outside and structured / unstructured axes. It begins with a bouncy melody from Malaby that is quickly joined by rough-edged soloing from Monder. This becomes a theme for The Cave Of Winds – Malaby maintains a sense of direction while Monder pushes the boundaries. Indeed, the latter’s raw tone, which is heavy on the midrange and often low in the mix, contrasts exquisitely with the playing of the other three, forming a sort of yin to their collective yang.

On the other hand, Recrudescence has all four members engaged in sparse and atmospheric free improvisation that slowly builds in tempo and density, with Malaby taking a more experimental approach. The centerpiece of the album is the 18-minute title track, which offers poignant alto and tenor playing from Malaby and simultaneous angular lines from Monder. Formanek and Rainey are actively engaged in co-extensive leads rather than just rhythm roles. The second half of the track is particularly compelling, as the group transforms from a chaotic and open-ended spontaneity to Monder providing droning and heavily distorted chords over which Malaby shifts from extended techniques to a subtle yet soaring theme.

The Cave Of Winds will be released on January 7 by Pyroclastic Records.

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