Cedar Walton, a hard bop legend if there ever was one, released The Maestro for Muse in 1980. This new reissue from 32 Jazz features the original program in its entirety, along with four additional tracks recorded a decade later for another Muse release, As Long As There’s Music.
Abbey Lincoln appears as a special guest on four of the 1980 tracks — two of which, "Not In Love" and "Castles," are Lincoln originals. The inimitable singer also performs Ellington’s "In a Sentimental Mood," as well as Walton’s somewhat banal Ellington tribute, "The Maestro." The instrumental tracks include "On the Trail," with an introductory solo by bassist David Williams, and a pair of Monk tunes, "Blue Monk" and "Rhythm-a-ning," both of which feature hot tenor solos by a young Bob Berg. Walton’s most eloquent playing occurs on Jobim’s "Sabia." The great Billy Higgins holds it all together on drums.
Like the original Maestro tracks, the four 1990 tracks feature Williams and Higgins in the rhythm section. But Berg and Lincoln are replaced by trumpeter Terence Blanchard and altoist Jesse Davis, both of whom were fairly new on the scene at the time. The quintet plays two standards, "Young and Foolish" and "As Long As There’s Music," along with Monk’s "Pannonica" and Walton’s boogaloo-flavored "I’m Not So Sure." These tracks seem to make sense as part of the package, but they lack the warmth of the earlier session. Davis’s horn is drenched in reverb and Williams’s bass sounds a lot less fat. Still, Blanchard’s muted solo on "Pannonica" is a pleasure, and Walton’s piano dazzles.
Tracks: 1. In a Sentimental Mood 2. Rhythm-a-ning 3. Not In Love 4. Sabia 5. The Maestro 6. Blue Monk 7. Castles 8. On the Trail 9. Young and Foolish 10. I’m Not So Sure 11. Pannonica 12. As Long As There’s Music
Cedar Walton, piano; Abbey Lincoln, vocals (1, 3, 5, 7); Bob Berg, tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4-8); Jesse Davis, alto saxophone (9-12); Terence Blanchard, trumpet (9-12); David Williams, bass; Billy Higgins, drums