There have been many notable jazz saxophone pairings recalling the great collaboration of John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on Kind of Blue (Legacy, 1959), including several very recent recordings with younger players like John O'Gallagher's Axiom, where the altoist is matched with tenor Tony Malaby. The duality and contrast of reed tones propelled by the unique voices of each musician can create magic when the combination is right. This Way, featuring alto saxophonist Myron Walden joined with tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, strikes yet another resonant and memorable chord.
Walden has quietly risen to prominence with noteworthy performances and compositional prowess on recordings with drummer Brian Blade, trumpeter David Weiss, and the New Jazz Composer's Octet, and his new release is the primary outlet to showcase his singular talent. What could at first be mistaken for typical chops quickly gives way to something much more as one listens closer. The normal influences are evident, but Walden unveils presence, style, as well as skills rivaling most players on the scene todaybut putting comparisons aside, in the end it's all about the music, and that's where Walden proves his merit.
Though not revealed in liner notes, it is evident that Walden and Greene share a strong connection. They complement, inspire, and channel their creative energy on these Walden-penned compositions. The music's post bop and modal themes vary from slower grooves to up-tempo cookers as the horns spar, dance, harmonize, and communicate oneness. Each voice is fluid, intensely expressive, and always aware of the other's presence harmonically. This becomes evident starting with "What Goes Up Must Come Down," as the horns sing behind tight arrangements, and in front with elaborate solos layered against a driven rhythm section. Though Walden's alto brings a smoother tone which contrasts with Greene's tenor, they both exhibit brawn on "Like I See It" and smoothness on the interlude piece "Too Far to Turn Back."
Behind every dynamic duo normally lays a tight rhythm section, and with the guns of bassist Vicente Archer and drummer E.J. Strickland, the barrels are still smoking. They not only support, but heighten the music with punctuated performances that are solid and marked by perfectly-synched tempos and bright solos on cuts like "Right Here," where everyone gets a chance to shine.
What Goes Up Must Come Down, Right Here, 3 Up 4 Down, Swamp Thing, Too Far To Turn Back, Like I See It, Sooner Than Later, Descent From The Clouds.
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