To categorize Donald Malloy’s musical
expression as eclectic is a bit like calling New York City a quaint
little town. Malloy grew up in Cleveland Heights in a household that
followed Ifa traditions and African praise music, which introduced him
to drumming and singing. Malloy picked up the trumpet in school which
inevitably led him to investigate Jazz; by the time he was 18, he had
played a number of professional gigs and earned simultaneous diplomas
from Cleveland Heights High and Cuyahoga Community College as well as a
scholarship to Oberlin College. At Oberlin, Malloy continued to play
with acknowledged masters like Billy Hart, Marcus Belgrave, Jimmy Heath
and Donald Byrd, while coming into his own as a composer, a gift that
was explored further as a graduate student at Rutgers.
Four years ago, Malloy assembled Sight,
a unit that combines his own early Jazz and Orisha exposure, as well as
his childhood leanings toward Tupac, Arrested Development and the
Fugees, with the Rock/Soul grooves of his bandmates — guitarist Seth
Johnson, bassist Nimrod Speaks and drummer Kassa Overall.
2009 saw the
release of Sight’s acclaimed debut, the aptly titled Spirituality, which garnered a ton of positive press, and the group’s sophomore album, The Mothers,
dropped this back in March to similarly glowing accolades, noting
Sight’s atmospheric textures, brilliant polyrhythms and soulful pulse,
topped off by Malloy’s incendiary and evocative solos.
With just two recordings, Donald Malloy
has turned his diverse musical upbringing into a brilliantly launched
career that will most assuredly see him blaze new Jazz trails and take
his rightful place among the genre’s most renowned innovators.
DONALD MALLOY plays the Blue Wisp Thursday, July 14. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.