Recent Listening: Russell Malone

Russell Malone, Triple Play (MaxJazz). The warmth, conversational phrasing and lack of hurry inMalone Triple Play.jpg Malone’s guitar work find space and congeniality in the spare background of David Wong’s bass and Montez Coleman’s drums. In the absence of another chording instrument to collaborate or contend with, Malone is free to make harmonic choices without concern for clash or collision. As the guitarist observes in his liner comments, Wong abets him with “great notes”…”good time” and taste. Coleman’s snare drum accents and cymbal splashes color the proceedings without calling undue attention to themselves or disrupting the flow.
Malone’s repertoire here is an assortment of his compositions, jazz tunes by others and standards. With its boogaloo inflections, his spunky “Sweet Georgia Peach” seems to allude to the pop funk of the 1970s. Like many of Malone’s originals, “Pecan Pie” and “Pocketwatch” have overtones of nostalgia and reflection. He radiates joy in “Butch and Butch,” a blues from Oliver Nelson’s 1961 The Blues and the Abstract Truth. He revives “Tailfeathers” from Patrão, Ron Carter’ 1980 album featuring Chet Baker and Kenny Barron. He lets Cole Porter’s melody tell its own story as he caresses the 1939 ballad “Do I Love You?” then ends with a series of astringent ascending figures that falls away into the reassurance of a major chord. It is a typical Malone study in contrast.

More Recent Listening reviews to come.

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  1. Dr, Mike Baughan says

    Had the honor & pleasure of meeting Mr.Malone on a Jazz @ Sea cruise. Quite a congenial conversationalist as well as his guitar playing ability as you describe here about ‘Triple Play’. Never seen a player with more riffs in his bag this side of Chet Atkins! Highly recommend seeing him live AND this CD. Frankly I don’t know how Diana Krall could ever keep up with him all those years in her band-no way!

  2. Kandie Webster says

    Thanks, Doug, for penning such great words to describe Russell Malone’s music.
    I always enjoy an enlightening review that makes one want to listen to the music, either for the first time, or all over again.
    I have had the recording in my cd changer since I received it before it was released.