Malija – Instinct
(Edition EDN 1096. CD review by Mike Collins)
Malija are a meeting of musical minds. The formidable creativity of Mark Lockheart, Liam Noble and Jasper Høiby makes Instinct, their second foray into the recording studio, a delicious prospect. It more than lives up to expectation.
Mark Lockheart’s saxophone is at the centre of their sound. There’s a constant emotional tug to his playing. Whether digging into riffy motifs or more fluid lines, a romantic fading swoop is never far away or a slide through and away from a note, given an edge with a bit of crackle and grit. It imbues his playing with a sense of flight and an impassioned, slightly melancholic edge.
Noble and Høiby are a constant jousting, swirling presence in the mix, injecting drive, momentum and colour. There’s electric interplay between the three that brings carefully scripted and distilled pieces fizzing to life.
The ten originals, with contributions from each of the band, conjure varied atmospheres. Kindred Spirit is tantalisingly brief and still somehow juxtaposes a jagged melodic line with hints of a dancing folk-like theme. Then they’re on to a jigsaw of interlocking phrases bouncing around the trio as Noble’s TV Shoes takes shape.
Hung Up, after a spooky riff and snaking theme, gives Lockheart space to be expansive over a tango-ish groove before Noble steps forward with an inventive, steadily intensifying solo. Moon Stairs unfurls like a mystery tale, sax and piano creeping around each other, arco bass complementing a distorted, nearly pretty melody before a group exploration of the mood.
Mila arrives at an instantly danceable, lilting melody via pulsing phrases and a percussive intro. It exits with piano and sax showing instinctive understanding in a playful exchange. Sanctuary’s slowly unfolding beauty is a highlight.
This is a fine set that reveals more of its quality with repeated listens.
Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman