Raphe Malik, trumpeter, has died.
- Hello unto you.
"Born: November 1, 1948 in Cambridge, MA
Died: March 8, 2006 in Guilford, VT
Free jazz trumpeter with Taylor, Lyons
by Todd S. Jenkins
Trumpeter Raphe Malik, a fixture in the bands of Cecil Taylor and
Jimmy Lyons during the 1970s and 80s, has died of a prolonged illness.
He had undergone a liver transplant a year ago but continued to suffer
ill health up until his death on March 8, 2006. He was 57 years old.
Malik was born Laurence Mazel in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November
1, 1948. He was a regional tennis champion in high school but foresaw
a career in music for himself. Mazel attended UMass-Amherst in the
late 1960s, then spent some time checking out the free-jazz scene in
Paris before going to Ohio's Antioch College. There his fate was
sealed, as he studied under three men who would become longtime
friends and associates: Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille.
After graduation he moved to New York, where he continued to work with
his former professors at, among other things, a 1974 Carnegie Hall
performance. It was then that he set Laurence Mazel aside and took on
the stage name, Raphe Malik.
Malik's first appearance on a recording came in 1976, on Taylor's
Dark Unto Themselves. Over the next several years Malik toured with
Taylor and made three more albums with the pianist: Three Phasis,
Cecil Taylor Unit, and One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye, all
of which are considered high points of Taylor's large catalog. Malik's
bold yet melodic approach was an excellent complement to altoist Lyons
and violinist Ramsey Ameen. The trumpeter also continued to work with
Lyons outside the Taylor unit (Wee Sneezawee, 1983), as well as
pianist Joel Futterman (Berlin Images, To the Edge) and saxophonist
Glenn Spearman (Free Worlds). He soon became one of the premier
trumpeters in American free jazz.
Besides his formidable trumpet talents, Malik was also a respectable
composer and producer. However, the 1980s brought a denouement in his
career. He found regular work as a tilesetter while leading his own
quintet in the Boston area. In 1992 his fortunes improved, beginning
with his marriage to Marguerite Serkin. The couple moved to Vermont,
where Malik built the family home and began teaching at Bennington
In 1994 Malik recorded Sirens Sweet and Slow for the small Outsounds
label, reestablishing his reputation in the free-jazz community. He
worked occasionally with Dennis Warren's Full Metal Revolutionary
Jazz Ensemble (Very Live; Watch Out!). William Parker, Alan Silva,
Sabir Mateen, and avant-garde singer Syd Straw also employed the
trumpeter at times. In 1995 he worked with the Rova Saxophone Quartet
on a revisitation of John Coltrane's Ascension. In 1997 Malik was
signed to the upstart Eremite label and recorded three albums there as
a leader (The Short Form; ConSequences; Companions). He was also a key
player for Boxholder, releasing Storyline, Looking East: A Suite in
Three Parts and Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club. Other labels for
which he recorded include FMP, Mapleshade and Le Systeme. Malik's
last recording before the advance of his illness was the excellent
Sympathy (Boxholder), with drummer Donald Robinson and Joe McPhee on
soprano sax and pocket trumpet.
Raphe Malik is survived by his wife, Marguerite Mazel, of Guilford,
Vermont; daughter Lena Mazel of Guilford; two sons, Miles Mazel of
Guilford and Joel Ortlip of Denver, Colorado; and sister Marjorie
Hecht of Leesburg, Va. Donations can be made in Mr. Mazel's memory to
the Musician's Emergency Fund in New York or the Morningside Shelter
in Brattleboro, Vermont."