206

Cedar Walton: Underground Memoirs

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Cedar Walton: Underground Memoirs The strength of any great musical interpreter is his or her ability to see the truth at the core of any great tune. This capability to assess the inner beauty of a memorable tune, regardless of context, can sometimes turn an inspired player into an equally noteworthy composer. That's the case with pianist Cedar Walton, who, now in his early '70s, contributed a number of well-known pieces to the late drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers songbook of the early '60s, and has continued to pen memorable hard bop tunes in the ensuing years.

Underground Memoirs is Walton's fourth solo outing in a career that spans six decades and collaborations with a veritable who's who of jazz, including saxophonists John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Henderson; and more recently, guitarist Larry Coryell, Manhattan Transfer singer Janis Siegel, and saxophonist David "Fathead Newman. He has chosen to interpret a programme of largely well-heeled standards, rather than contribute from a compositional perspective. Still, Walton understands the concept of a good story well told, adopting a decidedly non-virtuosic approach and remaining true to the material in a way that echoes Keith Jarrett's similarly faithful and uncharacteristically unflamboyant '99 home recording The Melody at Night, With You.

That's not to say that Walton and Jarrett share much in common; Jarrett's typical stream-of-consciousness approach is far removed from Walton's more thoughtful, but never overly-considered, means of interpretation. But both players, at least on these two recordings, share an apparent common musical goal that places the song first and the ego second, although there is certainly no lack of personality on either disc.

Three of the tunes covered by Walton are inspired by the late Miles Davis—someone with whom Walton never worked, but whose directness clearly informs his take on "Milestones, as well as two tunes commonly associated with Miles: "Someday My Prince Will Come and "On Green Dolphin Street. Walton retains a stronger hard bop approach than Miles would employ from the early '60s onwards, and he demonstrates an unfailing ability to get inside the melody of everything from Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark and Cole Porter's "Everytime We Say Goodbye to Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady. He also uses the freedom afforded by the solo setting to be more interpretive in a time sense, also stretching the compositions' harmonic potential while still remaining well inside the mainstream.

Walton's better-known role as the consummate accompanist sometimes overshadows his evocative strengths as a soloist, but Underground Memoirs offers an opportunity to hear him in that most exposed of contexts. The result is just under an hour's worth of nuanced reinvention and reverent reimagining.

Visit HighNote Records on the web.


Track Listing: Milestones; Lost April; Someday My Prince Will Come; Con Alma; Skylark; Everytime We Say Goodbye; On Green Dolphin Street; Underground Memoirs; Sophisticated Lady; I Want to Talk About You

Personnel: Cedar Walton (piano)

Title: Underground Memoirs | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: HighNote Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read The Romeo and Juliet Project CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Crystal Machine CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Machine
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Pocono Git-Down" CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Mount Meander" CD/LP/Track Review Mount Meander
by John Sharpe
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Trandans" CD/LP/Track Review Trandans
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2017
Read "Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960" CD/LP/Track Review Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Day and Night" CD/LP/Track Review Day and Night
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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