In the Press…
Le souffle de Tony Malaby ne peut laisser indifférent. Tel un paquebot enroué ou une gralla catalane éraillée, son saxophone refuse d’aller en paix.— Le son du grisli (France)
Ce quartette livre une musique fort audacieuse, sans facilité aucune. Son instrumentation est légèrement hors norme.— La Scena Musicale (Québec)
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Fraser’s apparent fascination with Canada’s smaller communities continues on Towns and Villages, which features group improvisations named for Prescott and Spencerville in eastern Ontario and Hundred Mile House in southeastern British Columbia; a musician does not tour Canada as often as Fraser has without getting to know its highways, byways and stopovers.
Fraser originally intended Towns and Villages to present Tony Malaby in the company of two bassists, Torontonians Andrew Downing and Rob Clutton, a format, he suggests, that was inspired by Ornette Coleman’s recent quartet and by such recordings as Bill Dixon’s two volumes of Vade Mecum, Joe Lovano’s Universal Language and Dewey Redman’s Soundsigns; still other recordings by Albert Ayler and the young Tony Williams also come to mind, and in fact Ayler and Williams seem no less like fleeting points of reference for Towns and Villages than Coleman, Dixon, Lovano and Redman.
In the event, Downing, who is also an accomplished cellist, proposed the alternative instrumentation heard here; his cello serves either as a keening second voice to Malaby’s taut, sculpted tenor and soprano solos, all sinew and strain, or as complementary counterweight to the heft and purpose of Clutton’s steadfast bass lines.
Fraser in turn makes the most, and the best, of his resources to give each of the 12 pieces on Towns and Villages — no matter how free, no matter how abstract, from the rumble and grind of Prescott: The Fort Town to the dark, stirring beauty of Ballad for Lydia — its own sense of logic, proportion and clarity.
Jazz historian, author, critic