Mal Waldron: One More Time (2002)
And that's a recurring theme throughout the record, which sits at the threshhold without necessarily committing to an "inside" or "outside" path. Waldron has a soft spot for swing, and the delicate touch to pull it off effortlessly. Without overstating things, he also delves deep into the heart of the blues. (Check out both of the latter on "Blues for J.J.'s Bass.") But he's not one to pull his punches, either (as adequately demonstrated on the solo piece "In the Land of Clusters"). Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, who knows all too well how to straddle boundaries, lends an understated energy to his birdlike melodies. Avenel finds plenty of opportunities for drama, and his voice often serves as a sort of diesel engine on One More Time.
With the give-and-take among these players, the various configurations found on this record (two solo, four duo, and two trio) tend to roil at a low simmer. There's not much outright fire, but nobody ever gets complacent, either. For Maldron, this indeed marks a high point. And pay close attention to bassist Avenel, whose outspoken playing deserves your ear.
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Track Listing: All Alone; Rites of Initiation; You; Blues for JJ's Bass; The Seagulls of Kristiansund; Waltz for Marianne; In the Land of Clusters; Soul Eyes.
Personnel: Mal Waldron: piano; Jean-Jacques Avenel: bass; Steve Lacy: soprano saxophone.
Record Label: Sketch
Style: Modern Jazz