The Jazzcat

Russell Malone and Nicholas Payton Headline at the Jazz Bakery

by on Feb.21, 2008, under News


Slide Show

We have a path in life and although you look forward to

specific things happening, certain circumstances are inevitable. Originally,

the headliner was Curtis Fuller opening with Nicholas Payton but Curtis could

not make it. I did hear that it was not a health issue so thank God for that.

When you put a rock in the stream, the direction of the flow takes on a new

course. Such is the situation when Russell Malone steps in to fill the space

(pun) here at the Jazz Bakery.


Pinstripe pimpin’ and playing his ass off, the combination

of Russell along with Nicholas add quite a different twist in the sound that all

expected to hear. Of course we all miss Curtis but Russell is rockin’ the

Bakery with a group of players that know how to hit it hard. The front line is

a monster and the precision on the trumpet along with tenacity of improvisation

coming from the guitar proves that the spontaneous switch in direction takes

flight in a whole new sky!


The rhythm section is comprised of LA’s own Nate Morgan on

piano, Tony Dumas on bass and Roy McCurdy on drums, a trio that in their own

right, know how to play the game on such a high level. A last minute switch can

sometimes be a drag because the musicians get locked into a zone where trust is

a major component. This software comes with an antivirus program that Norton

validates will have no bugs and will play with the utmost efficiency. The

Matrix of the music!


I got there for the second set and when it started with a

Joe Henderson composition, I knew that the sparks were going to fly. I could

see in the eyes of Nicholas that the spontaneity of new sound allowed him to

explore different options in the music. Nicholas’s sound is shines like a new

Benz off of the showroom floor, classic, clean and ready to roll! Russell is

clean as well, but when he takes his vehicle off road, you better watch out

because you might get hit with some rock or a splash of low down dirty Blues. I

don’t know what music was originally planned but the new road maps is a

welcomed detour.


Russell has this way of laying these thick chords all up in

the melody and Nicholas comes right behind him with such a solid tone that is

direct and undeniable in its delivery. Nate Morgan is droppin’ these notes like

water flowing down the rapids with ease and power maneuvering all of its

curves, bumps and turns as he glides his way towards destination in through the

out door!


Tony Dumas speaks as the rhythm is thrown his way. He played

with the great Joe Henderson so he definitely knows his way all that music and

adds so many colors to the rest of the tunes. He keeps the music riding on low

register love as Roy McCurdy holds the force down with his polyrhythmic

grooves, marching traps and keen sense of time.


From eighty miles an hour down to twenty in less than sixty,

Russell leads the crew into a version of “Witchcraft” that sings and dances in

four that Frank didn’t know nothin’ about! These cats are serving smiles with

this head swingin’, finger poppin’ romance. Back in the day folks use to go

home reflecting on the music and nine months later, “A Child is Born”.


It is just a pleasure to sit back and listen to which

direction these guys take the music. The embellishments articulated on the

melody are astounding. Monkering the mix with blues, hand crafting the melody

with precision, and constructing sculptures around new sounds make the fun,

creative, spontaneous and a blast!


LeRoy Downs


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