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Cedar Walton: Three Sundays In The Seventies

AAJ Staff By

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Label M launched its new enterprise with a stunning live and previously unreleased concert by Stan Getz at the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore. With more than 200 tapes recorded by Baltimore's Left Bank Jazz Society legally in its possession, the label continues to remaster and enhance the tapes from a home recorder that captured the spirit of the concerts. In some respects, the Society recorded during what has become a golden age for some of the greatest musicians in jazz.

With the release of Three Sundays In The Seventies, Cedar Walton is assuming his rightful position as one of the masters of jazz piano, and yet one of the more invisible ones. Even though Walton shows up once in a while to illuminate CD's by the likes of Freddy Cole, his recent recorded output is sparse, and listeners have to seek out his rare recordings. His Eastern Rebellion band with first Clifford Jordan and then George Coleman and then Bob Berg remains a classic, as does his composition "Bolivia." Yet, Walton seems to appear on European labels more often than American ones since he left the Muse label.

Three Sundays In The Seventies recalls the strength and extroverted but tasteful technique of Walton as he performed gigs at the Famous Ballroom over a span of three years. Better yet, long-time associates Clifford Jordan, Sam Jones and Billy Higgins, not to mention another Jazz Messenger alumni, Bill Hardman, join Walton on this date that was unheard by the public until now. In addition, the re-issue includes several of Walton's compositions, "Plexus" and "I'm Not So Sure," to inspire the group through modal conceptions that allow especially the horns to work out.

Walton's trio performs "Naima," "This Guy's In Love With You" and "Shiny Stockings," revealing the difficulty of miking and recording a piano, especially when done by non-professionals. While we get to enjoy Walton's technique, the piano is somewhat muffled and seems to be of lower-than-studio quality. Such is the traditional complaint of touring jazz pianists. Nevertheless, Walton plows through the pieces and overcomes the limitations of the instrument to invest the tunes with energy.

The middle concert includes Etta Jones, as unaffected and inspired as ever. She sings one of her first recorded tunes, "Blow Top Blues," written by one of her early mentors, Leonard Feather. The second tune is her most famous, "Don't Go To Strangers," to which she adds a twist by "singing it as Billie Holiday would have sung it." Thus, she reveals the lineage of her style, from Billie to Etta to Nancy Wilson and others to singers like Anita Baker and Regina Belle. The ultimate nightclub singer and one of the few remaining female jazz legends, Jones adds humor and positive feelings to the performances.

With live performances by Al Cohn/Zoot Sims and Jimmy Heath/Freddie Hubbard on the way, Three Sundays In The Seventies creates one of the study footers upon which the Live At The Left Bank series will be built hopefully far into the future.

Track Listing: Naima, Pinocchio, This Guy's In Love With You, Plexus, I'm Not So Sure, Shiny Stockings, Blow Top Blues, Don't Go To Strangers

Personnel: Cedar Walton, piano; Clifford Jordan, tenor sax; Bill Hardman, trumpet; Sam Jones, Herbie Lewis, bass; Billy Higgins, drums; Etta Jones, vocals

Title: Three Sundays In The Seventies | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Label M

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