To tie everything in this issue together with a bow: I first heard Malik Alston on CD, via a release from his label called Truth Manifest In The Mix! The album featured Paul Randolph, Amp Fiddler, Craig Huckaby and other artists pretty well-known both then and now. And, more to the point, the DJ who put Truth Manifest into the mix was Norm Talley.
It’s about 15 years later and a number of those same figures are representing on Air, coming from The Jazz Diaries imprint. This is some next level work. Malik Alston calls it “fun,” and fun it must have been to hear his band Painted Pictures become an absolutely ferocious outfit in a studio setting. But it’s admittedly hard to place the album into the context of Alston’s collected work, though, when so much of Malik Alston’s output falls squarely in that “criminally underrated” category (check out, for instance, “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” with Alton Miller’s remixes on Inner Muse. And buy it, because nobody will know where you got it from.)
The title track, “Air,” invokes the ancestors and pays homage to an underlying jazz groove that can be found in the DNA of every good soul record. The vocals are magical; the percussion exquisite and the brass is animated by the holy spirit. If the band could be assembled, and the venue could stay open that late, this could be played for an hour without anyone calling for it to end.
On the A side, a raw, spiritual power builds a head of steam. On the B side, it breaks free in devastating rhythms. “Linwood (It’s The Groove”) and “Rise Up (Savannah)” are two of the best tracks released this year, all and any genres included. I want to live in a world where Air is in everyone’s record collection, a Bitches Brew for a new generation.
Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Air (The Jazz Diaries / 12″ Vinyl / Digital / November 2021)
1. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Painted Pictures – Air (06:51)
2. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Painted Pictures – Almost on the One (08:37)
3. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Malik Alston, Painted Pictures – Butterfly (05:37)
4. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Painted Pictures – Where Do We Go (07:19)
5. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Linwood (It’s the Groove) (07:58)
6. Malik Alston Presents Painted Pictures: Painted Pictures – Rise Up (Savannah) (08:11)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was submitted as a promo by the label.