For a rewarding evening of jazz, one doesn't have to run up to the Big Apple, not when the local scene provides the likes of the John Malachi Trio with guest performer Charlie Rouse on tenor sax.
Malachi was present in one of the first big bands of bebop (along with Dizzy and Bird), the Billy Eckstein Orchestra. Rouse, too, served in that organization as well as with Ellington and Thelonious Monk.
Last night a Mr. Y's Rouse warmed up on "Billie's Bounce," the melodic line fragmented at first and then coming together with total logic of structure. On the ballad "When Sonny Gets Blue" his very personal sound was well displayed.
Malachi did not play behind or beneath Rouse, but rather in and out of his lines, weaving a tapestry of counterpoint and interpolation. His solo on "Yardbird Suite" showed an impressive fluency in the bop tradition.
If the electric bass is ever to achieve distinction in jazz, its practitioners better get hip to Nathen Page's handling of the instrument. He plays it with, would you believe, articulation and even subtlety. Drummer Harold Mann's underpinning was firm and varied, his breaks crisp and clean.
The John Malachi Trio with Charlie Rouse will perform again tonight at Mr. Y's.