Nick Fraser Quartet with Tony Malaby (Ontario/USA)
Drummer and composer Nick Fraser is a ubiquitous presence in Toronto’s music scenes and, while he is a consummate sideman with countless collaborators, he has always made his own composing and bandleading a priority. These efforts have included his remarkable duo with guitarist Justin Haynes and the cooperative quintet Drumheller, but have reached a new level of maturity, refinement, and international scope with his Quartet. The group has just released its third disc, Is Life Long? (Clean Feed), a beautifully modulated dance between group restraint and viciously joyful abandon. New York saxophonist Tony Malaby contributes his rich, brawny, and, above all, detailed sound to the thick string counterpoint and underpinnings of cellist Andrew Downing and bassist Rob Clutton, both stalwart members of Toronto’s field of creative music. Fraser’s drumming and composing speak to his deep rapport with these players, with a grace, economy, and energy that is perfectly calibrated to the needs of the group music.