262

Cedar Walton: The Maestro

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
There’s a lot of memorable music on this reissue of two sessions recorded a decade apart. The common element is the presence of longtime Walton associates, bassist David Williams and drummer Billy Higgins, who play on all 12 tracks. The music from December, 1980 (tracks 1-8) includes tenor saxophonist Bob Berg (the fourth member of the pianist’s working band at the time) and four cuts with vocalist Abbey Lincoln (who Walton worked with in the mid-sixties).

Recorded at the end of a two-month tour, the band has a nice, loose feel, plays with confidence, yet the music is filled with details that set it apart from a simple head-solos-head format. For instance, on Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood,” Lincoln’s vocal begins only after Walton’s short solo has been sandwiched between Berg’s two playings of the tune’s melody. Another example is Walton and Berg’s delightfully swinging unison chorus on the title track (with music and lyrics written by the pianist), which makes a fine contrast to the authority and power of Lincoln’s voice.

Both Berg and Walton are in exceptional form during their solo work. Berg stands out on an up-tempo version of Thelonious Monk’s “Rhythm-A-Ning,” where he displays a great command of the bebop lexicon, but clearly has his own voice. Another one of Monk’s compositions, “Blue Monk,” also taken at a faster tempo than usual, finds Walton digging into a phrase with relish, and then moving effortlessly to the next one.

The music from July, 1990 (tracks 9-12) features a front line of trumpeter Terence Blanchard and alto saxophonist Jesse Davis. The music seems more polished than the earlier session, sounding like a particularly tight hard bop ensemble. Walton has a knack for coming up with nifty arrangements of standards like “Young And Foolish,” and “As Long As There’s Music,” as well as doing justice to another Monk composition, “Pannonica.” On this one he artfully scatters notes and chords over Blanchard and Davis’ solemn reading of the melody, plays the bridge without the horns, and follows with a solo that stays in the spirit of the ballad, yet gently pushes and pulls the tune in various directions.

Track List:In A Sentimental Mood; Rhythm-A-Ning; Not In Love; Sabia; The Maestro; Blue Monk; Castles; On The Trail; Young And Foolish; I’m Not So Sure; Pannonica; As Long As There’s Music.


Personnel: Cedar Walton

Title: The Maestro | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: 32 Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Danse" CD/LP/Track Review Danse
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Grace
by James Nadal
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Escualo" CD/LP/Track Review Escualo
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "ON Tour" CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.