The Playlist

Tony Malaby, ‘Just Me, Just Me’

The pandemic has forced jazz musicians to become resourceful — in some cases, to the extreme. Before 2020, the tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby frequently hosted jam sessions at home that doubled as workshops. A few months into lockdown, he decided to recreate them in a Covid-safe environment: underneath an overpass on the New Jersey Turnpike, in a graffiti-splattered passageway that left him and his fellow musicians only sort of protected from the elements but did create a resonant chamber of echo. He named it the Cave of Winds. That name now adorns his new album, which features the guitarist Ben Monder, the bassist Michael Formanek and the drummer Tom Rainey playing Malaby originals. “Just Me, Just Me” is his lockdown-era play on “Just You, Just Me” — though it’s got more in common with Ornette Coleman’s wily harmolodics than with any prewar jazz standard. Malaby and Monder share the ragged, corkscrewing melody over a rhythm-section backing that’s never far from total disintegration. Monder’s solo is a scrabbling, distorted trip, and Malaby follows it up with his own shot of crisply melodic chaos.


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