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Cedar Walton has been a first-call hard bop pianist for almost as long as there's been hard-bop. In a splendid, though often underappreciated, career spanning six decades, he's had notable stints in the bands of giants like JJ Johnson, Lee Morgan, Art Farmer and Art Blakey, while also leading well-respected groups of his own. Now, at seventy-two, he's one of the elder statesmen of the hard-bop genre and one of the true living legends of jazz piano.
His latest release is a typically excellent effort from the Dallas, Texas-born artist. Joined by drummer Joe Farnsworth and bassist David Williams, plus saxophonist Vincent Herring (performing on tenor instead of his usual alto) on two tracks, Walton offers a nicely varied set featuring updated versions of some of his early compositions ("One Flight Down and "The Rubber Man ), tunes by modern jazz masters (and fellow Jazz Messengers alumni) Wayne Shorter and Freddie Hubbard and a supremely relaxed take on the classic "Time After Time.
The album's highlight, however, is a three-song medley of Billy Strayhorn tunes on which Walton displays the full depth of his artistry and subtle command at the keyboard, even adding a touch of lightness to the melancholy "Lush Life. Straight-ahead jazz piano doesn't get much better than this.
Track Listing: One Flight Down; The Rubber Man; Lush Life; Daydream; Raincheck; Seven Minds; Time After Time; Hammer Head; Little Sunflower.
Personnel: Cedar Walton: piano; Joe Farnsworth: drums; David Williams: bass; Vincent Herring: tenor saxophone.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.