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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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RUSSELL MALONE

Love Looks Good On You

HIGH NOTE HCD7268

 

 

Soul Leo

Love Looks Good On You

The Elder

Ellie’s Love Theme

Your Zowie Face

Mirrors

Amsterdam After Dark

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing

Suite Sioux

Russell Malone (guitar): Rick Germanson (piano): Gerald Cannon (bass): Willie Jones III (drums)

Recorded October 2014, Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY [57:37]

Russell Malone takes a steadier and more considered – and slower – approach to material in his latest album. Here he’s not the guitar gunslinger, more the refined disciple of Wes Montgomery or Grant Green, biding his time, letting his notes fully speak.

Malone has soul but couched in a loping swing, aided by a steady-grooved band alert to his every move. Rick Germanson takes some delightful solos, as on Soul Leo, the Mulgrew Miller tune, and I wish that he’d taken more throughout this 57-minute album. The title track is a Malone original, a pretty ballad with a filmic cast to it. The Basie-styled swinger that Thad Jones wrote for reticent soloist Freddie Greene – The Elder – is reprised by Malone, a soloist to his fingertips. He ‘twists’ the notes cogently and leaves plenty of space, à la Basie band – thus simultaneously honouring the original but also giving us his new take on things.

Ellie’s Love Theme is the love theme from the film Shaft but, as is consistent with his playing throughout, Malone slows it down a little and savours its lyricism and harmonies with the richest and most precise of articulation.

As Malone says, Your Zowie Face is indeed catchy – it was composed by Bricusse and Goldsmith so should be catchy with that pedigree. Mirrors is a slow moving and relaxed opus, whilst George Coleman’s Amsterdam After Dark gives Malone another opportunity to reveal his soloistic fluency; Germanson’s solo here is articulate too. Malone lightens his tone and deftly manoeuvres through Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing and ends with Suite Sioux (nice title – say it aloud and you’ll get it) which is a fastish swinger with another piano solo and an opportunity, briefly, for drummer Willie Jones III to show his abundant skills. I should add that bassist Gerald Cannon is a tower of strength throughout.

There’s good recorded sound quality here, and this disc can be safely recommended to Malone’s admirers.

Jonathan Woolf



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