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I listen to a lot of jazz on CD, live in clubs and other venues. A great deal of it is really good solid music. The kind you like to see played live. The kind you wish they played on the radio. This album is a jazz album that fits the above description.

Here is one of the best bands you might never hear. MALT is four musicians who have collaborated for over 20 years on a sound which is very easy to like. But like so many of the local jazz groups being really proficient hasn't been enough to make MALT a recognized ensemble.

Saxophonist Tom Peterson captures the sax’s voice like quality in his playing. His saxophone is lyrical and melodic. His phrasing gives the music he plays a pleasing conversational quality. Hearing Mr. Peterson’s horn makes you feel good.

Now I would love to have the opportunity to go and see a big name saxophonist of the type who has CDs in the big record stores. However, almost all of them have passed on. But MALT’S, Tom Peterson, makes comparable music and he does play where you can see him.

Then there is Matt Harris, who is a university and graduate school educated composer, as well as a superb piano player. He is a strong influence on MALT’S musical concept. The concept seems to be to balance the music allowing each of the musicians to fully participate in performance and to demonstrate their art in solos. The concept results over all in consistently enjoyable music. Mr. Harris has contributed four compositions to the collection.

Bass player Armando Compean lends his Latin, classical and jazz background to the bands rhythmic structure. His playing is soulful and fully involved. Mr. Compean’s composition "Freedom This" is a skillfully written piece of music that starts off with an introspective sound and then changes rhythms and moods repeatedly throughout its 5:23 duration. All four instruments are woven into the fabric of this song, resulting in a very interesting aural experience, not to mention a great song.

Drum duties are skillfully handled by Lee Spath. He creates a motive force that drives the band through their musical landscape. Mr. Spath also shares composing duties on "Squiggy," which is a rich satisfying brew of sound and rhythm.

These four musicians form an excellent ensemble, and have produced a very nice album, which will enrich any jazz collection.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: MALT
  • CD Title: MALT
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Independent
  • Tracks: The Prez, Now I Know, Still Warm, Shenanigans, Looking Glass, Freedom This, Squiggy, Reflections, Mattito, Vapors, Whats New'
  • Musicians: Matt Harris (piano), Armando Compean (bass), Lee Spath, (drums), Tom Peterson (saxophones)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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