Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Pinnacle of a brilliant career
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 06/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One mark of a jazz genius is his ability to continue to grow as a musician as he ages. This is certainly true of, for example, Pharoah Sanders, who is playing more beautifully than ever--and putting himself in increasingly challenging musical settings. It was also true of Stan Getz, who made three of his finest records at the very end of his career when he was dying of lung cancer. It is no less true of that great and somewhat underregarded jazz pianist, Mal Waldron. Of course, it helps to find brilliant young bandmates, players perfectly attuned to one's esthetic, yet skilled and mature enough to push an artist along new pathways. His association with drummer John Betch and bassist Ed Schuller resulted in--to these ears, at least--his finest recordings. These players, each with a profound understanding of and love for the blues, connect with each other in a way that seems almost mystical, unearthly. Check out their interplay on, esp., "A Bow to the Classics." This represents for me one of the very high points of group interaction in all of jazz. And it just keeps happening over and over, as, for example, on the next number, the delightful waltz, "Little One." They imbue this music with such ebullience that it never fails to send my spirits soaring. No wonder Waldron himself declared these players to be his all-time favorite bandmates. Their up tempo numbers are no less amazing, swinging with incredible high-energy drive. I esp. like their inspired reading of the Waldron original "Blood and Guts." Schuller, the son of a famous classical musician father, takes a simply brilliant bass solo, followed by Betsch in absolutely top form on drums. But--amazingly--there's an even more significant connection that emerges during the course of this disc: The serendipitous coming together of Mal Waldron and tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper. Meant to be a one-off meeting, it lead to a long and fruitful association between the two players as well as the truly remarkable disc, The Art of the Duo, also reviewed by me on Amazon.com. The depth and immediacy of this meeting of musical minds encapsulates what's best about jazz--that people from such diverse cultural backgrounds (Pepper, a full-blooded Lakota Indian, Waldron, an African-American) could come together for the first time and instantly sound like they've been playing together for decades. Like the title of their first encounter, they are instant "Soul Mates." Sadly, such fine music as this barely registers on the cultural radar screen, Indeed, given the vagaries and vicissitudes of the jazz world, we should be thankful that it exists at all. And we should be especially thankful for the vision and dedication of Tutu label founders Horst Weber and Peter Wiessmueller to allow this glorious music to see the light of in the first place, and to continue to keep it available with such meager demand."