R.I.P. Atlanta Musician Rob Mallard

Rob Mallard left this earth on the eve of the United States’ 242nd Independence Day celebration. Simply judging from the suddenness of his death, the hush-hush/“I’ll PM you” Facebook posts about it mentioning pain/mental illness and the lack of accompanying ruminations on the (made-up) “disease” of addiction, logic leads us to ascertain that it was neither expected nor accidental, nor substance-related, but a suicide. It is a sad, depressing end to one of Atlanta’s more talented and intriguing musicians.

Emerging from Druid Hills High School’s Class of ’85, Mallard began tentatively making his local musical mark while attending Emory in the late 1980s, with short-lived bands named 4 Farmers and Missing a Meal. He played flute in the bossa nova-influenced Cicada Sings in the early ‘90s, and – on guitar and vocals – fronted (with Coleman Lewis) the indie-rock quartet Ed Splatt in ’91 and ’92 (a briefly reformed edition of Ed Splatt was the very first band to play at The EARL in 1999). Going for a burlier sound, Rob and other members forged on with 60 Cycle Hum and Red Eye Gravy, and also backed up Rob’s sister Winn Mallard in the more fun/party-oriented Liplock Alarm Clock in the mid-90s.

It was in 1993 that Rob steered his main focus toward jazz with his best-known group, indie/improv ensemble the Gold Sparkle Band, featuring Mallard on saxophone. A few years later Mallard’s group William Carlos Williams took a similar path with a heavier, more abrasive approach. Later groups such as the Atlanta Fourth Ward Improvisational Ensemble continued this interest in improv jazz.

Mallard participated in numerous other groups, as well – Apparition Response Ensemble, Full Throttle, Cut & Paste… couldn’t begin to name them all. He recorded with Eugene Chadbourne and Pineal Ventana, to name a couple. In more recent years, the booming Georgia movie industry held his attention, as he worked in set construction/decoration on assorted film and television shows produced in Atlanta.

We offer our condolences to his family and friends. Rob left behind a wife and two young children, age four and nine, who’ll have to deal with this for the rest of their lives. There will be a memorial service on Saturday, July 28th at Glenn Memorial Church.