Cedar Walton: Voices Deep Within (2009)

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Cedar Walton: Voices Deep Within
Since 2001, Cedar Walton's regular excursions into Rudy Van Gelder's legendary Englewood Cliffs studio for the HighNote label have consistently resulted in some of this century's finest mainstream jazz recordings. On Voices Deep Within he continues the tradition, once again demonstrating the vitality and endurance of (t)his music. Despite his ever growing popularity and critical acclaim (and next month's NEA Jazz Mastership), Walton has not yet been elevated to his deserved place in the pantheon of the greatest jazz pianists—alongside the somewhat senior Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
1928 - 2014
piano
, who he would eventually succeed in Art Blakey
Art Blakey
Art Blakey
1919 - 1990
drums
's Jazz Messengers, and the slightly younger McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
, who he preceded in recording with John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
. And although this disc is unlikely to bring him the fame that his talent warrants, it will please both dyed-in-the-wool Waltonians and newcomers just beginning to appreciate his artistry.

Walton, a prolific and prodigious composer of memorable melodies, an arranger of uncommon originality and a pianist with an immediately identifiable sound and style, is at his best here. He divides the date between slightly altered versions of his working trio (with Buster Williams
Buster Williams
Buster Williams
b.1942
bass
sitting in for regular bassist David Williams and Willie Jones III in the drum chair previously occupied by Kenny Washington - Vocals
Kenny Washington - Vocals
Kenny Washington - Vocals
b.1957
vocalist
, Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
and Joe Farnsworth
Joe Farnsworth
Joe Farnsworth
b.1968
drums
, since the death of longtime Walton colleague Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
1936 - 2001
drums
) and quartet (with Vincent Herring
Vincent Herring
Vincent Herring
b.1964
saxophone
eschewing his customary alto saxophone exclusively to play tenor). The saxophonist's dark bittersweet sound is heard to good effect on four tracks, beginning with the opening title piece, a brightly swinging Walton original that recalls his Eastern Rebellion units featuring George Coleman
George Coleman
George Coleman
b.1935
sax, tenor
or Bob Berg
Bob Berg
Bob Berg
1951 - 2002
saxophone
.

The trio tracks, relaxed readings of Eubie Blake
Eubie Blake
Eubie Blake
1883 - 1993
piano
's "Memories Of You" and the leader's own "Dear Ruth," as well as romantic renderings of "Over The Rainbow" and "Naima," showcase Williams' lyrical bass and Jones' remarkably mature work with brushes, along with Walton's uncanny ability to put new twists on familiar material. The album's showpiece is a reworking of his earlier arrangement of "Another Star"—an exciting tour de force that shines a bright light on the pianist's harmonic, melodic and rhythmic genius, with an engaging introductory vamp and countermelody that makes the Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
classic his own. Herring's tenor swings melodically on this and two more quartet pieces—the leader's "Something in Common" and Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
' "No Moe"—complementing the trio's superb sound nicely.

Track Listing: Voices Deep Within; Memories of You; Another Star; Dear Ruth; Something in Common; Over the Rainbow; Naima; No Moe.

Personnel: Cedar Walton: piano; Vincent Herring: tenor saxophone; Buster Williams: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Record Label: HighNote Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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