Russell Malone is one of the most commanding and versatile guitarists performing today. He can move from jazz to blues to gospel to pop and R&B without hesitation, a rare facility that has prompted some of the highest profile artists in the world to call upon him: Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Christina Aguilera, B.B. King, David Sanborn, Harry Connick, Jr. to name a few. On his new MAXJAZZ release, Live at Jazz Standard (Volume One), Malone captivates from the opener and displays why he is one of the most in-demand guitarists today.
Live at Jazz Standard features his working band of Martin Bejerano, piano; Tassili Bond, bass; and Johnathan Blake, drums. All arrangements are by Malone, who also produced the CD and wrote five of the seven tracks.
Malone's crisp original and opener, He Said What?, begins with a driving groove by Bejerano and shows Malone's clean tone and dazzling guitar work. The group follows with another Malone original titled I Saw You Do It. With Bejerano sitting this one out, Bond and Blake keep driving the rhythm while Malone displays his ability to fuse distinct musical elements into an instantly appealing tune. On the smooth original Flirt, Malone showcases the fluid and lyrical movement that has distinguished him from his peers. The Frank Rosolino standard, Blue Daniel, swings with great energy. Bejerano's piano and Blake's drums push the rhythm before Bond lays down a nice solo. Mean Streak is a blistering track written by Malone that features impressive solos by Malone, Bejerano and Blake. The pace slows with a hauntingly powerful version of the Milt Jackson ballad Heartstrings. Malone was further compelled to "dig a little deeper" that night by the presence of Jackson's widow, Sandy, and daughter Chyrise. Malone and crew close with a bang on his blues-infused original Malone Blues. The composition clearly showcases Malone's extraordinary versatility.
Reviews"Malone's great strength is his ability to synthesize influences from a variety of sources." - Los Angeles Times