Raphe Malik | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Raphe Malik


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Boston trumpeter Raphe Malik is part of an underappreciated class of musicians--including the AACM, New York's loft-jazz scene, and various sidemen obscured by their leaders' visions--who helped channel the raw energy of 60s free jazz into something not only more cerebral but also more liberal. From the mid-70s through the early 80s Malik's powerful, extroverted playing was vital to the music of pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, but when the extremes of slavish neobop and too-cool downtown experimentation began to suck attention away from the vast middle, he, like lots of other less recognized 70s vets, was left in the cold. Falling into one of jazz's most romanticized traps, Malik wasted most of the 80s in the grip of alcohol and drugs. Early this decade, however, he managed to get his shit together, and the handful of quintet recordings he's made--with saxophonists Glenn Spearman and Brian King Nelson, drummer Dennis Warren, and bassist Larry Roland--have shown he's not done contributing yet. In particular, 21st Century Texts (FMP), from 1992, bristles with fierce intensity: Malik's playing is marked by a blustery attack, piercing high notes, cage-rattling smears, and jagged lines, and his terse heads serve as springboards to some truly incendiary solo flights. This is Malik's Chicago debut as a leader; he's joined by Warren and bassist George Langford. Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Raphe Malik by Dagmar Gebers.

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