Chronicling daily life in twenty-first century cosmopolitan London is where this trio is all about, and with the occasional support of strings from the Ligeti Quartet, the three musicians accomplish the task admirably. Comprising pianist Liam Noble, Danish double bassist Jasper Hølby and multi-reedist Mark Lockheart, Malija offer an all-original selection of compositions that are pretty evenly divided up between the members with Lockheart composing five of the eleven pieces. At least three of the numbers are tributes of one sort or another, ‘Almost a tango’ being a staccato-themed piece that echoes Monk in its treatment and there is a fluidity to the piano and saxophone performances here. A strong contender for most lyrical composition is ‘One for us’ that is an uplifting mid-tempo number. Strings enter on the repetitive piano vamp of ‘Mr Wrack’ which becomes increasingly free in form as the piece progresses. The historical duet between Duke Ellington and John Coltrane is conjured up on ‘Blues’ while both Duke and fellow pianist Earl Hines are evoked on ‘The Pianist’ with fine interplay between Noble and Lockheart. The genesis of the trio creation dates back to 2009 with a collective collaboration on Mark Lockheart’s album as a leader, ‘In Deep’.
A second tribute, this time to saxophonist Wayne Shorter, comes in the form of ‘Wayne’s world’. The title track is no less than a ray of sunshine on a wet, cloudy day and makes for ideal winter listening to recharge the soul. In general, the music is optimistic and encompassing in nature and a bright future seems assured for this trio.