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Tony Malaby should call his next album “Malleable”–no word better conveys the tenor saxophonist’s ability to adapt his sound according to the predilections of his many collaborators. On bassist George Schuller’s Hellbent (Playscape, 2002) Malaby and altoist Tim Berne perform a rigorous dance over the convoluted contours of the songs, exchanging searingly high harmonic cries. As the lone horn on Verbs of Will (Radio Legs), the most recent album by bassist Mark Helias’s trio Open Loose, Malaby adopts a rangier improvisational style, imbuing his long lines with deep blues feeling and sometimes altering his tone to sound like an alto or even a flute. On his own records Malaby does it all: on last year’s Apparitions (Songlines), recorded with bassist Drew Gress and two full-kit drummers, Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin, the reedist makes full use of his harmonic depth, abiding sense of swing, and beautifully sculpted tone. He dials down a bit on Mirror Me (OmniTone), the debut album by his wife, pianist Angelica Sanchez. She favors darker, more ambiguous melodic shapes than those of her husband, building her solos out of somber, gorgeous harmonies. Their trio, rounded out by Rainey on drums, is making its Chicago debut. In a free concert: Wednesday, March 17, 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630. Next Friday, March 19, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 21281/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Tafuri.