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Mal Waldron: One More Time

Mike Neely By

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Mal Waldron: One More Time

One More Time is an intimate portrait of two neglected masters with a third master, Steve Lacy, stepping in to add his low-key tip of the hat. Mal Waldron and Jean-Jacques Avenel are the focus of this release that serves as a tribute to Waldron, one of jazz's most versatile pianists who died in 2002. The highlights of Waldron's career are striking by any standard. Many of his recordings with Charles Mingus, Billie Holiday, Eric Dolphy, and Steve Lacy are considered classics.

One More Time was recorded and released in 2002, and features Steve Lacy's long time bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel who often played and recorded with Waldron. Two tracks feature Steve Lacy and two tracks feature Waldron's solo piano. This is an exceptional recording. The sound quality is superb and Waldron's crystalline technique and classical background are more evident than on most of his recordings.

Waldron's generosity toward another great accompanist, Avenel, is also notable. Avenel is granted plenty of solo space, especially in Waldron's composition "Blues For JJ's Bass." In many ways this release is a Waldron/Avenel duet recording with two Lacy cameos. Avenel makes the best of the opportunity. His imaginative solo work on "Rites Of Initiation" is a reminder that Avenel has been Lacy's bassist for so long simply because he's one of the best on either side of the Atlantic.

Of course, Waldron is up for the exchange, whether accompanying Avenel or developing his own solos. Subtle and emotionally attuned to the moment, Waldron has always had a way of developing motif patterns that are both rhythmically challenging and intense. Back in the '50s and '60s, band leaders Mingus and Dolphy certainly appreciated these qualities from their pianist, while his sensitivity to the nuances of accompaniment was a reason he became Billie Holiday's pianist. With Waldron, the heart of the matter was always the focus of his playing, and One More Time poignantly reminds us of whom we have lost.

Track Listing: All Alone; Rites Of Initiation; You; Blues For JJ

Personnel: Mal Waldron: piano; Jean-Jacques Avenel: bass; Steve Lacy: soprano saxophone.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Sketch | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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