Tony Malaby’s Sabino

The Cave Of Winds
(Pyroclastic Records)

Tony Malaby seems to have swallowed his saxophones whole, so expressively vocal and immediate is his playing, which dominates and directs the soundscapes construed by the brilliant band Sabino that recorded his debut album back in 2000. Today, at age 56, Malaby is a New York-scene veteran. With a brawny tone that can turn feather-light, a range running from roars and lyricism, a solid grasp momentum and a narrative bent, he demands and deserves to be heard.

The Cave Of Winds comes out of the saxophonist’s pandemic lockdown sessions convened with a shifting coterie of players under a thruway bridge near his home, and as a return to recording is a statement of survival. The four musicians operate team-like, proposing, discovering, adapting to and then navigating further an uncompromising field of improvisations and wide-open compositions that lead to some wild places. Though raw and sometimes despairing, the music resolves highlights the players’ connections.

The titular 18-minute centerpiece is a perhaps the culmination of their collaboration. Unfolding as the players feel each other out and respond imaginatively, it arrives as pre-
ordained halfway through. But before and past that point, the quartet interacts with intimacy reminiscent of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Tunefulness is beside the point (although both “Corinthian Leather” and “Just Me, Just Me” have melodies that will interest other players as well as fans). The Cave Of Winds is about enduring the maelstrom together.