Myron Walden: This Way (2005)
Myron Walden is a refreshing, individualistic alto saxophonist, perhaps the most original player on his instrument to come along since Kenny Garrett. Walden's sound, plaintive, shot through with a bluesy wail, is fully his own; there's nothing quite like it in jazz today. He takes lots of chances, often leaping outside the changes or bursting into swirling clusters of notes, but he never forgets to swing.
On This Way, Walden uses an instrumentation he apparently favors: a front line of alto and tenor sax and a rhythm section of bass and drums, with no chording instrument. Jimmy Greene brings his husky-toned tenor to these proceedings, adding much to the music. He swings hard and his rapport with Walden is deep. On "Sooner Than Later," a burning variation on "Sweet Georgia Brown," Greene pounces on Walden's final phrase as if he had played it himself, then charges into his own solo. The moment is electrifying and the continuity of musical thought is quite impressive.
In addition, this album benefits from Walden's pen. It consists entirely of Walden originals, all of which manifest structural and harmonic interest. There's an emphasis on cooking, with medium and fast tempos predominating. There are some Latin grooves, lots of hard swing, and only one ballad, the poignant "Too Far To Turn Back." Walden and Greene devour this material, roaring through their solos and never letting up. When Walden begins his solo on the fast "3 Up 4 Down," bassist Vicente Archer lays out, leaving only drummer E.J. Strickland to accompany the altoist. Walden and Strickland rise to the occasion with powerful interaction, generating heat, light, and excitement.
Track Listing: What Goes Up Must Come Down, Right Here, 3 Up 4 Down, Swamp Thing, Too Far To Turn Back, Like I See It, Sooner Than Later, Descent From The Clouds.
Personnel: Myron Walden, alto sax; Jimmy Greene, tenor sax; Vicente Archer, bass; E.J. Strickland, drums.