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.
Rhythm Abstraction: Azure is the first volume of new compositions created as a follow up to 2018’s
release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion
solos. Frank Macchia then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Azure
is the first of three extended play albums of 6-7 compositions which will be released starting in
January and followed up in April and July. In Azure we have a created a group of pieces that continue
our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of
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