Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


December 22, 2022
Goodbye Ground - Sakina Abdou
Label: Relative Pitch Records
Catalog #: RPRSS013
Location: United States
Release Date: December 16, 2022
Media: compact disc or digital download entry entry



MUTABLE - Don Malfon
Label: Relative Pitch Records
Catalog #: RPRSS015
Location: United States
Release Date: December 16, 2022
Media: compact disc or digital download entry entry



It just so happens that the two saxophone solo albums released by Relative Pitch Records on December 16, 2022—Don Malfon's MUTABLE and Sakina Abdou's Goodbye Ground—have eight and seven tracks respectively. So, it is possible to arrange the fifteen tracks in alternating order, beginning with Mr. Malfon's MUTABLE 1, followed by Ms. Abdou's opening track, The Day I Became a Floor, then MUTABLE 2 et cetera until you reach Ms. Abdou's last track, Planting Chairs (Part 5), and conclude with Mr. Malfon's MUTABLE 8. This is the way we chose to expose our ears to the saxophones of Mr. Malfon and Ms. Abdou for our first listening to these two albums.

To our knowledge, we have never heard any music by either saxophonist previously, so this listening served not only as an introduction to the albums but to the artists as well. Our motivation in arranging the tracks in alternating order rather than in two consecutive blocks was to invite the potential to jar our ears at the beginning of every track, to snap ourselves out of a complacent listening reverie and explicitly re-focus our attention.

The listening experiment worked much better than we anticipated. The experimental techniques of Mr. Malfon kicked off the initial five minutes listening in the first track. We were then immediately alerted to the comparatively mellow playing of Ms. Abdou. The rattling, harmonic saxophone of Mr. Malfon returned to be followed by a juxtaposition of honking and long notes by Ms. Abdou.

Back and forth it went, like a musical tennis match caught in a temporal distortion in which each stroke in the volley lasted anywhere from three to twelve minutes. Again, to our knowledge, Don Malfon and Sakina Abdou have no connection to each other, aside from the serendipitous release date of their albums in the Relative Pitch Records Solo Series. So any association formed here is completely artificial. At the same time, there is no denying that the arbitrary experiment was a success in that it did prompt us to pay better attention and appreciate the unique manipulation of the saxophone by each musician.

We suspect, although we are unlikely to put our hypothesis to the test, that this sort of track-by-track alternating listening could be performed with many improvisational solo albums, so long as they are parsed into a similar number of tracks. That the result sounded so good for these two particular records is likely a reflection of the kind of music that appears in the albums. Both possess experimental, individual voices that seem to welcome the creative company of like attitudes, though the musical voices are surely distinct.

We also thought about this listening as a good old-fashioned, fiery, saxophone jazz duel. If the reader has never encountered the (very) short story, The King of Jazz by the American author of meta-fiction, Donald Barthelme (1931-1989), you should pause in this review and immediately read it here. Returning to the review with this epic clash between Hokie Mokie and Hideo Yamaguchi fresh in our thoughts, we can now more fully appreciate the sonic duel that this alternating placement of tracks from Mutable and Goodbye Ground calls to mind.

Of course, each individual is free to listen to these albums in whichever manner suits them. We suspect that, regardless of the particular order, the pleasure in being introduced to two thoughtful and inventive saxophonists will be retained.


  • Sakina Abdou (saxophone)
  • Don Malfon (alto and baritone saxophones)


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