Myron Walden: Momentum & Momentum Live
Momentum is both album title and the name Myron Walden has used for one of his ensembles, inspired by the '60s Miles Davis Quintet (another ensemble, Myron Walden In This World, seems poised at the intersection of Windham Hill and ECM dale). Like Wayne Shorter in that Miles band, Walden, known until now for his alto, plays tenor sax in Momentum. These two albums also resemble the difference between the studio and live recordings of the Davis quintet, providing an even greater contrast since the studio CD, Momentum, features not only a slightly different cast but also instrumentation. David Bryant plays an electric Rhodes piano on it while Eden Ladin plays acoustic piano on Momentum Live. Trumpeter Darren Barrett and bassist Yasushi Nakamura appear with Walden on both CDs, but the drummers are Kendrick Scott (studio) and John Davis (live).
The drum difference is almost as crucial to the contrast in sound and approach on the two CDs as is the keyboard textures. Scott is the more kinetic and metrically adventurous drummer whereas Davis is more in-the-pocket, pushing the beat rather than flexing it. So the sound of the studio album is more complex and textured than the live one. The disparity is most evident on the four titles that share both CDs. The studio version of "Of Three Worlds" is tightly programmed, full of tricky metric shifts and is mostly a tenor feature with crackling tenor-drums duet interludes; the live version drops most of the tenor-drum dialogue in favor of longer solos from trumpet and piano as well as tenor, carried along by a scintillating swing beat without most of the metric complexities. "Pulse," "written with the human heartbeat in mind" according to Walden's spoken intro on Live, is twice as long on that CD, looser and spacier than the compact studio version. Its affinities to Shorter's compositional style are more evident in the studio, where rhythms undulate and trumpet picks right up on the tenor's last harsh cries, continuing the feel. The live "Pulse" dynamics dip and rise more, trumpet whispering in after hesitating a couple of beats after Walden's solo, which is also a contrast to the studio one, this time quavering and fluttering rather than raspy. A cool vibe suffuses both versions of "Miles," a moody ballad featuring tenor and closing choruses of tenor and trumpet dialoguing, longer and more luxuriantly on the live track. The bossa-like rhythms of "The Road Ahead" provoke Barrett's bluesiest solo on the studio version, but he's in a (samba?) hard bop mode on the live track and Walden substitutes swinging fervor for studio slither on the live version.
The studio CD includes a few shorter tracks, all Walden originals deftly arranged to feature an aspect (horns playing tandem or trading 4s and 8s) or framing a single soloist. They add to the album's sparkle and evidence that Walden is becoming a jazz composer of note. Two pieces not on the studio album frame the live CD in driving post-bop swing, as much an homage to mainstream hard bop as the Miles Quintet.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Of Three Worlds; The Road Ahead; Pulse; Vision of A Visionary; Miles; When Time Stood Still; What Goes Up Must Come Down; Longing; Like A Flower Seeking the Sun; Memories; Carnage; When Time Stood Still.
Personnel: Myron Walden: tenor sax and composer; Darren Barrett: trumpet; David Bryant: Rhodes electric piano; Yasushi Nakamura: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums.
Tracks: Journey; The Road Ahead; Pulse; Of Three Worlds; Miles; On the Clock.
Personnel: Myron Walden: tenor and compositions; Barrett: trumpet; Eden Ladin: piano; Nakamura: bass; John Davis: drums.