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Few would debate pianist Cedar Walton's significance in jazz. With this release, the artist continues to utilize the efforts of alto saxophonist Vincent Herring and bassist David Williams, while Kenny Washington inherits the chair once held by the late drummer Billy Higgins. Therefore, as one might surmise, Walton's eloquence and artisanship is once again prominently exhibited on his latest group led effort.
On the opener and title piece, "Promise Land," the quartet bases its soulful vibe upon Herring's unruffled phraseology and memorably melodic hook. Moreover, Herring's lilting flute passages during the samba tinged "N.P.S" perpetuates a gala outlook, amid Walton's beautifully constructed solos and effective comping. Moderate swing vamps prevail throughout, as the band often conjures up remembrances of the 60's West Coast jazz scene, due to Herring's breezy passages and the leader's fluent mode of execution.
Walton demonstrates his soft touch and articulately executed lyricism on the standard "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," while Herring pours his soul into the grand scheme of things via his clear toned lines and compassionate interpretation of the main theme. Walton's joyous musical spirit is candidly articulated on The Promise Land.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.