Brian Allen/Tony Malaby/Tom Rainey, CBGB Lounge, 12/19/04

The second of four groups performing at the last Freestyle Events: Avant Jazz & Other
Musics hosted by Dee Pop in 2004. Dee needs to be seriously applauded for his efforts
there, providing an opportunity for some great music, free of any outside influences or
expectations, to flow strongly over the noisy air conditioning and heating units.

The trio of Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano saxes), Brian Allen (trombone), and Tom
Rainey (drums) engaged in a set of free improvised music that showed just how great this
music can be when played by a group of creative and like-minded improvisers. For close to
an hour the three explored countless uncharted territories around the realm of modern jazz
and free improvisation. Each of the artists were comfortable and inspired enough to weave
effortlessly in and out of the forefront, inviting and inciting one another to take the music
one step further.

Malaby covers so much territory within this music but never falls victim to any contrived
sense of "being eclectic" for the sake of. What he plays all comes from the same place,
from the heart and soul of the creative artist. Tony seems to be able to get from one place
in the music to the other in such a logical and unhurried manner. While he almost always
takes his music down uncharted paths (even when playing in a realtively conventional
modern jazz setting), tonight Tony was possessed by an even greater spirit. With the aide
and encouragement of his partners, he dug way down deep with some of the most intense,
raw, and energized tenor stylings that I've heard him engage in. The music took off into
beautiful free excursions with all three improvising simultaneously but supporting and
backing each other all the way. And before you knew it, they were swinging furiously.

Brian Allen is a name to look out for. This was my first experience hearing him peform live
or on record. Up from Texas to play in this setting (and with Mark Dresser and Dave Ballou
on Wednesday) Brian's contributions to this music were great. He, like Tony (and Tom)
appears to be equally comfortable playing "out" or swinging, but I get the sense that he's
at his most inspired when playing free. His accents and punctuations, as well as his more
melodic lines all served to help engage the trio and keep it moving.

And Tom Rainey, well you know Tom Rainey. Picture the way that he plays in Mark Helias'
Open Loose and take that a few more steps into free improvisation and you'll have an idea
of what Tom was contributing to the music. Tom has such a great sense for what's
happening in the music that he can actually add to a horn player's phrase by listening and
adding accents in the most creative places. Rarely do you hear him play a repetitive,
straight rhythm, but the rhythmic feel always seems to be there, and be there in a strong
way. An unsung master of the drums.

This was trio improvising at its best. A highly stimulating second set to the CBGB night of
freestyle musics, preceeding another fine set by Dee Pop, Daniel Carter, William Parker,
Dave Hoffstra, and Dave Sewelson in the band Freedomland. Highlights there included a
monstrous tenor sax solo by Carter and a bass line and solo by Parker that evoked the
spirit of Jimmy Garrison. It reminded me of Coltrane's "Ascent" from Sun Ship.