Heard on Jazz on 3 early on in the year when a Vortex gig of Malcolm’s was broadcast the trumpeter has been around a while but is suddenly blossoming via the Take Five artist development scheme as well as gigging with band-to-watch Moonlight Saving Time, but he's here with his own quartet+ made up of avant piano sensation Alexander Hawkins, Michelson Morley drummer Mark Whitlam, and bassist Olie Brice who has been touring recently with the redoubtable Tony Malaby. Vibist Corey Mwamba who’s on the spiritual Nat Birchall Duende live album Live in Larissa guests on three tracks of this studio album recorded in the seaside town of Penarth near Cardiff in May last year.
Malcolm has something of the air of a Cool School trumpeter filtered via free jazz hard-wired into his playing persona, more Don Cherry than Chet, and he’s learnt from latterday Cool-into-free disciple Ralph Alessi who Malcolm has apparently studied with. Opening with ‘Sidereal’ Whitlam is Motian-like on brushes although the lubricant here is Hawkins’ jabby chords that Malcolm responds to.
Most of the music is the trumpeter’s, the jaunty highly syncopated ‘There’s Lead in Their Pencils’ a bit of a period piece, the Ornettian part of the 1950s in an aural snapshot, Hawkins after a couple of minutes burrowing even further back historically. The full bell tone at the beginning of ‘Grimes’ sounds like the big statement of the record, the conversation between trumpet and drums like two people talking at once but hearing everything each says Hawkins eventually coming in with a commentary of his own, abstract and creating new space.
All-out improv also has its place here on Beyond These Voices as too does a certain blues connotation in the free-jazz sense, as Brice channels his inner Henry Grimes opening up nakedly on ‘Views (for HG)’. Fresh and fulfilling a free for all that’s well stocked with ideas that make sense, and a certain poise in the execution. SG
Nick Malcolm plays St Ives Jazz Club, St Ives, Cornwall, on Tuesday 27 May.
Beyond These Voices is released on 2 June