Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 02/02/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is the sort of album I consider to be a strong, great little album that is not a monster classic. Recorded in the summer of '61, this album is Mal - piano, Dolphy - alto saxophone and clarinet (not his more frequent bass clarinet), Booker Ervin - tenor, Ron Carter - cello, Joe Benjamin - bass and Charlie Persip - drums.
For me, it's really Ron's cello that cuts this album down a few pegs. Arco he's okay... nothing spectacular, but not a deal-breaker. The pizzicato is a total mood killer. Ron's a great musician but the stuff he's picking and thumping out of the cello is so clunky and out of place that it mangles the flow. Basically I just sit there and suffer through the cello because the rest of the album earns it. If all you ever heard of Ron was this, you'd have no idea that he can actually swing.
Now to the good stuff... Mal's name is on the album and the compositions, but it feels like a Dolphy album. I don't have the issue from this product page. I have this album as part of the Eric Dolphy Complete Prestige Recordings boxed set (remastered 1995). This is another album that will make you lament Eric's early departure from this life. Warm Canto in particular makes me wonder what would have been. We all know Eric could do his exalted, off-kilter swing thing to perfection, but Canto (on clarinet) shows some great, slow ballad playing that feels like a tease... like he was growing into this direction. It makes me think he could have been an all-time ballad player had he gotten older... lived more... loved more... lost more.
Booker is a stark contrast to Eric's playing, and they pair very well, particularly when playing at the same time. Booker's tough tenor with Eric skittering behind it. I'd love to hear William Parker adopt a couple of these tunes and let the Little Huey Orchestra take them where they may.
Mal's playing is always cool, but this isn't one of his major albums in terms of long stretches of uninterrupted Mal soloing, so you may want to know that in advance. Also, a previous review mentions Booker Little on this album. He's not on this album. I think that reviewer just got their Fire Waltzes confused and was thinking of the Five Spot Dolphy-Little stuff.
Essential for the Dolphy fan. Just be prepared to wade through the clumsy cello playing."
A CLASSIC JAZZ ALBUM!!!
Dub Taylor | Paris, France | 11/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am amazed that this album, "The Quest", by Mal Waldron is not one of the most well known masterpieces of the genre (such as, "Kind of Blue"). From it's "Twilight Zone" like opening track through Eric Dolphy's edgy solos, it's riveting. This CD really should really be included in any essential Jazz collection and as one of the basic titles in the Dolphy discography..."