Triple Play is a trio record, with Russell Malone’s guitar being the only harmonic instrument. Many guitarists would shy from the challenge of keeping the harmony and melody while soloing. It’s not a problem for the very capable Malone.
David Wong (bass) and Montez Coleman (drums) lend perfect accompaniment for Malone, effortlessly backing him through the Latin-tinged original “Honeybone,” where Malone’s mix of chords and single lines set the tone before decidedly un-jazzy blues bends and a stunning jazz solo mixes chords with the melody. “Butch and Butch” illustrates his skill at throwing melodies into an amazingly original solo.
Malone is a master of ballads – it would be hard to find a jazz guitarist as skilled at chordal work, as exemplified on “Pecan Pie” and a cover of Cole Porter’s “Do I Love You?” Malone’s “Sweet Georgia Peach” is quirky march with a guitar-figure head before a positively funky solo. “Tail Feathers” finds him playing lovely dissonant tones, with a solo that sticks in your head.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.