Detroit’s jazz community is known the world over for producing many great jazz pianists such as Barry Harris and Tommy Flanagan. To this very day, Detroit continues to make sensational jazz pianists. One such sensation is Mike Malis, a graduate of the University of Michigan and a former pupil of the late pianist Geri Allen. Of the current pool of young jazz pianists on Detroit’s scene, Malis has proven to be one of the most daring, willing to go musically where his peers are reluctant to or don’t have the chops yet to go. Malis’s daring was on full display Friday evening at the Motor City Wine Bar where his quartet performed challenging compositions by Don Cherry, Andrew Hill, Geri Allen, and Wayne Shorter, mixed with some of Malis’s originals fresh from the oven. Malis’s band was comprised of some skilled swingers in trumpeter Kris Johnson, bassist Josef Deas, and drummer Jonathan Taylor. The quartet opened with an updated and extended take on Don Cherry’s “Guinea,” followed by Geri Allen’s “Dolphy’s Dance,” a complicated piece of music Malis admitted he’s been trying to master for years. The audience’s enthusiastic response after the quartet completed the number was a sign Malis with the help of his band has finally nailed Allen’s composition. Malis is a thoughtful young musician who hasn’t been around long, but who has already built quite a name for himself with two terrific recordings on the market “lifted from the no of all nothing,” and “Balance.” Then there’s his growing body of work as a sideman. Aside from his willingness to tackle complicated material by jazz greats, Malis is equally adept at every branch of jazz bop, swing, the blues, and the avant-garde, which his chops seem to be most suited. Plus, he has a knack for de-complicating compositions so the layman can relate to and enjoy. That trait was immediately recognizable also in the band as a whole. Musically, they were more than capable of going in whatever direction Malis pointed them. The quartet doesn’t hit together often, which is surprising given how totally in sync they were. You wouldn’t have been wrong to estimate the band has been playing together for years. Then again, each member is accomplished. Johnson has been on the road for years now with the Count Basie Orchestra. Deas was a vital force in one of Detroit’s all-time great jazz ensembles Urban Transport, and for years has been a Godsend in every band that’s employed him. He isn’t a constant presence on the scene currently like he was when Urban Transport was hot, but given how wonderful he sounded Friday evening on solo after solo he’s been somewhere invested in some woodshedding. His bass walking has grown exponentially. Taylor is new to my ears, but I loved what I heard, a mature and tasteful drummer not interested one bit in wrangling the spotlight. It was refreshing hearing a jazz band run by a young musician confident enough to treat an audience to a night of rarely performed compositions from jazz greats and his own catchy originals.