Malachi Favors Maghostut: double bass | Hanah Jon Taylor: tenor & soprano saxophones | Vincent Davis: drum set
1 to 5 recorded live on October 10th 2003 by Jim Newhouser at Union Terrace, University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wi, USA) ; 6 recorded live by Steven Tod at Velvet Lounge (Chicago, Il, USA). Mastering: Jean-Pierre Bouquet. Liner notes: Alexandre Pierrepont. Producer: Michel Dorbon
Tracklist: 1. Talkin’ to You (7.07) 2. Au Privave (7.27) 3. Maghostut (12.38) 4. Electric Elephant Dance (6.55) 5. Beware of the Wolf (10.38) 6. My Babe (11.48)
Notwithstanding a fruitful career
the great, late bass player Malachi Favors was quite a discreet musician even though no one has forgotten his role as the central mainstay of the Art Ensemble of Chicago until his death in January 2004. Apart from this, he only made one splendid solo album but no group recording as a leader was heard until this Maghostut Trio. Consequently, the present beautiful, original, intense and cohesive record is also a rare musical moment to enjoy. A few months before his death, Malachi Favors gave birth to this trio featuring the powerful lyricism of Hanah Jon Taylor and the precise ear of Vincent Davis; both of them complementary of Malachi Favors’ unique and too rarely heard playing. Listening to this record, we realize how any musician willing to be original has to perfectly know the pastime masters. And that’s why, through freedom, freshness and power of speech, we are confronted here with centuries of History. Live at Last Single CD Malachi Favors Maghostut: double bass Hanah Jon Taylor: soprano & tenor saxophones, flute and keyboards Vincent Davis: drums Recorded live in October 2003 at Madison University (Wi, USA) and the Velvet Lounge in Chicago (Il, USA)
Malachi Favors Maghostut
Live At Last features stalwart AEC bassist Maghostut
in a format he is rarely associated with, but which suits him extremely well—the “power trio” of saxophone, bass and drums. One has only to look back to the close of the 1960s, when Favors was in Paris recording for the BYG label, to see prime examples—tenor man Dewey Redman’s Tarik, with Favors and Ed Blackwell, is a cornerstone of the subgenre. Favors also cut trio tracks with Archie Shepp and Philly Joe Jones (“Touareg,” on Blasé) and with Sunny Murray and tenor man Ken Terroade (the mind-melting “Real,” on Sunshine) during his stay in Paris.
With Tarik somewhere in the background, the trio starts off in a lilting Afro-Latin mode with “Talkin’ To You,” Taylor’s brusque tenor chopping angles like Roscoe, but with enough new-Newk in his cadences that he’s obviously aligned with tradition. Similar to many doublers of the past few generations, Taylor has also developed a flute language wholly independent of his tenor, classically intoned but obliquely non-Western.
Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave” is given a husky workout, Davis lighter and more open as Favors provides density and harmonics in a constantly varying array of colors and shapes. Favors’ solo here recalls the stubborn propulsion of tunes like “Tutunkamen” while referencing the jaunty cadences of Bird’s theme. The phrase “larger than life” may be a cliché, but for sure Favors’ playing here is huge.
Dichotomy, specifically that of space/sound, is something commonly associated with AACM music and Live At Last has it in “Maghostut.” Yet, where prime tone poems like “People In Sorrow” and “As If It Were The Seasons” are imbued with tension and mass in their delicate sounds, and their wide-open spaces frighteningly claustrophobic, it appears in this case like too much waiting for another’s sound, rather than the collective experience of opening up. When Taylor’s tenor erupts in gruff, long lines (a la Cliff Jordan), it’s almost as though the action the trio was waiting for had arrived. Though Davis might be heavy-handed in this context, his rhythm-sound approach is as powerful as any, and his cyclical rendering of agitated sound-shards works well in propelling the music forward.
The only aesthetic dud occurs when Taylor employs keyboards, which disrupt the organic, acoustic flow of the music and aren’t applied in as broad a canvas as AACM music requires. As far as it may seem from the Art Ensemble tradition, where this group excels is in wide-open blowing and funky free-bop (check the raw skronk and loping earthiness of “My Babe.”) But looking at Maghostut’s pedigree, such a form is validly “Ancient to the Future,” as the AEC definition has it. — Clifford Allen
Malachi Favors Maghostut
Trickster to the end, when bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut died
of pancreatic cancer in early 2004, his daughter revealed that he had actually born 10 years earlier than his previously accepted 1937 birth date. In a way that concluding jape was perfectly in character for the versatile bassist who from the mid-1960s until his death was a vital component of the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC). The quintet proved that theatricism in the form of face paint, costumes, so-called “little instruments” and stylistic turns could be the source of profound and searching modern jazz – or if you prefer Great Black Music Ancient to the Future.
Fittingly Favors, whose most common rejoinder to inquiries about his age was that he was “older than dirt”, was born in Mississippi, one of the centres of jazz history, and brought up in Chicago, another important jazz location. A bass player by the time he was 15, after an army stint during the Korean War, Favors studied with local heavyweight bassists such as Israel Crosby and Wilbur Ware, and worked regular club gigs with pianists Andrew Hill and King Fleming. Searching for something more, he played briefly with Sun Ra, joined pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band by 1961, and was a Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) founding member.
A subsequent meeting with saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell led to him joining the reedman’s band which eventually evolved into the AEC. Favors, who also played banjo, zither, bells, gong, harmonica, melodica and percussion is generally credited with introducing “little instruments” to the AACM and AEC, the idea for which came from playing with Sun Ra and observing visiting African musical groups.
Besides his 35 years as a stabilizing force in the AEC, the bassist also recorded and played in a variety of contexts in Europe and North America with other advanced players such as saxophonist Archie Shepp, trumpeter Dennis González and drummer Sunny Murray. Internationally, he was part of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet. Home in Chicago, from the 1990s, Favors was with saxophonist Ari Brown, a valued member of percussionist Kahil El’Zabar’s Ritual Trio, showcased on many Delmark CDs; and played in ensembles with fellow bassist Tatsu Aoki, with whom he recorded a duo disc for Southport. His only CD as combo leader is a RogueArt session with fellow AACMers, saxophonist Hannah Jon Taylor and drummer Vincent Davis.
Unassuming in his actions except for his exceptional bass styling, Favors sometimes added the suffix Maghostut to his name, explaining that Maghostut was an ancient African word meaning “I Am the Host”. The timeless and mystical connection of this name fit perfectly with the profound, tradition-extending musicianship he displayed throughout his life. — Ken Waxman
Hanah Jon Taylor, Vincent Davis, Malachi Favors (from left to right)
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)