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With Malice Toward None by Tom McIntosh

Tom McIntosh may be one of the best-kept secrets in jazz among listeners, who become aware of musicians through the promotion of recording companies or by hearing them on tours. Part of McIntosh’s low profile may be due to the decisions he made about his career, jumping at legendary saxophonist Benny Golson’s suggestion to score movies such as Shaft as jazz was entering its trough in popularity in the 1970’s before the Young Lions resurgence a decade later. After moving from California, McIntosh taught at The New England Conservatory of Music, helping to inspire the careers of numerous other musicians but still remaining away from widespread public awareness.

The jazz musicians knew about McIntosh, particularly James Moody, who recognized McIntosh’s talent and in fact learned much about jazz theory from him, helping to advance Moody’s artistry even further. Golson himself hired McIntosh for his famous Jazztet in the early 1960’s, and McIntosh performed in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra as well.

But McIntosh, influential as he is, never recorded an album under his own name. Now he has.

Restlessly creative, McIntosh is still writing music, and he intended that With Malice Toward None would feature some of his recent compositions. But in the end, it also includes some of McIntosh’s best known tunes, including "The Cup Bearers" and "With Malice Toward None," which have been recorded numerous times by jazz artists over the years.

More remarkable than the fact that McIntosh is leading his own group and recording new compositions is the excellence of the musicians who appear on With Malice Toward None. Once again, Moody and Golson are performing with McIntosh. But so is top-shelf talent like Kenny Barron, Richard Davis, Roger Kellaway, Jimmy Owens, Buster Williams and Stefon Harris. And the results are greater than the sum of musicians as they take the music to a level far above that suggested by the notes written for their parts.

For instance, Barron and Harris feed each other ideas in the middle of "Minor Consolation" McIntosh’s musical remembrance of his wife who passed away before the recording session as they successively heighten the intensity through repetition and elaboration of the other’s thoughts. Or there’s the pleasure of hearing Moody and Golson trading choruses on "I’m Out No Hating" as they improvise in their own contrasting and yet complementary styles. On "Billie’s Bounce," one of the bonus tracks, the swing and extroversion of Barron’s and Kellaway’s playing make the track a memorable event in itself, as is the pairing of Moody and Golson. As is the give and take of McIntosh on trombone and Jimmy Owens on "The Cup Bearers." As is the glittering piano introduction to "Rupture In The Rapture," as performed by McIntosh’s former student, Helen Sung. In fact, the CD offers such an abundance of exceptional piano and saxophone work, not to mention the introduction of to-be-classic compositions, that With Malice Toward None (notably containing themes of amity and justice throughout the project) that it will remain one of the jazz highlights on 2004.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tom McIntosh
  • CD Title: With Malice Toward None
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: IPO Recordings
  • Tracks: The Cup Bearers, The MVP, Ruptures In The Rapture, Minor Consolation, With Malice Toward None, Balanced Scales Equal Justice, I’m Out No Hating Bonus Tracks: Billie’s Bounce, Long Ago And Far Away
  • Musicians: Tom McIntosh (trombone, composer, arranger); Jimmy Owens (trumpet); Benny Golson, Frank Perowsky (tenor saxophone); James Moody (tenor saxophone, flute); Kenny Barron, Roger Kellaway, Helen Sung (piano); Bill Washer (guitar); Stefon Harris (vibraphone); Richard Davis, Buster Williams (bass); Ben Perowsky (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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