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.