Tony Malaby Credit: Dirk Neven

Saxophonist Tony Malaby has led countless groups over the years, often tailoring his ensembles to reflect different facets of his aesthetic such as flinty chamberlike interactions, deep dives into harmony, and rich multihorn orchestrations. In addition to his own musical endeavors, over the last couple of decades bandleaders as distinctive and accomplished as Ches Smith, Charlie Haden, Mario Pavone, Marty Ehrlich, Paul Motian, and Mark Helias have enlisted his services, and with good reason: Malaby’s striated tone and sweet-sour phrasing stand out in every context, and he can masterfully alter them to enhance any specific setting. One of the most visceral and open projects of Malaby’s career is Tone Collector, a trio with bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Jeff Davis that cut one fiery, self-titled album for the Jazzaway label in 2005 before going silent. I was thrilled to discover the trio has recently been resurrected, and this weekend it makes its overdue Chicago debut. A good chunk of the band’s recording features bruising improvisation, with Malaby threading his high-energy blowing with acidic threads of melody over the thrum of his rhythm section. But there are also passages of brooding, viscous contemplation, such as “Waltz Coda,” and lyric balladry, as with Opsvik’s tender “Glorious.” I’m curious to hear how Tone Collector sounds in 2018, and how these superb players meld together.   v