Mal WALDRON – Left Alone 1959

Mal WALDRON – Left Alone 1959

Jazz

This obscure CD reissue has the wrong date listed (it is from February 24, 1959, not November 1957) and fails to mention that altoist Jackie McLean sits in with pianist Mal Waldron’s trio (which includes bassist Julian Euell and drummer Al Dreares) on the title cut, a number co-written by Waldron and Billie Holiday. Although Waldron dedicated the album to Lady Day and talks about her a bit on the last track in a short interview with vibraphonist Teddy Charles (which was recorded a bit later), he actually only performs one song from her repertoire: “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” Otherwise this rather brief CD has the title cut, two other typically brooding Waldron originals plus Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin.” McLean’s emotional alto is such a strong asset on the title cut that one wishes he were on the rest of this worthwhile set.
By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
**
Pianist-composer Mal Waldron worked as Billie Holiday’s accompanist from 1957 until her death in 1959, and there are few musicians who could record as moving a tribute to the great singer. Though the CD gives a 1957 recording date, this was actually recorded around the time of Holiday’s death, with a concluding conversation in which Waldron discusses Holiday and the recording. “Left Alone,” a song composed by Waldron to Holiday’s lyric, adds altoist Jackie McLean to the pianist’s trio for an acid-etched ballad that has the somber longing of Holiday’s own late performances. The equally powerful “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” strongly associated with Holiday, concludes with a profound sense of resolve. The other tracks are the kind of trio material that Waldron played during the years he backed Holiday. “Cat Walk” swings at a slow, loping tempo, while Waldron uses probing, dissonant chords and repetition to create a knotty maelstrom on his own “Minor Pulsation,” reaching emotional levels that few pianists achieve. The support from bassist Julian Euell and drummer Al Dreares is as solid and spare as Waldron’s own work. –Stuart Broomer
**
2002 really is a very sad year for jazz,and specially for piano players : after Ellis Larkins,Dodo Marmarosa,Sir Roland Hanna,the great Mal Waldron left us of cancer, aged 77.
I easily remember my feelings of happiness when I bought two weeks ago,”Left alone revisited”,a duet between Mal and Archie Shepp,recorded at the beginning of this year in Paris.Hope this record,issued by Enja, will soon be available on Amazon.com;this could well be the most important record of the year,an incredible masterpiece,maybe the most moving tribute to Billie Holiday ever recorded.
“Left alone” is Mal’s first tribute to Billie.Just remind that Mal happened to be Billie’s pianist for the two last years of the singer’s life.The young pianist was already one of the most singular voices in the world of piano jazz,strongly influenced by Thelonious Monk,but also by the great Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols.Mal plays with Julian Euell,bass and Al Dreares,drums;the fantastic alto sax of Jackie McLean is featured on some tracks.Both Waldron and McLean will record another tribute to Billie Holiday in 1986 (“left alone ’86”).Of course,it ain’t easy to write about such a major artist so shortly after his death; emotions and memories surely will prevail.But this CD is a must,if you love Billie or if you’re addicted to Mal’s fascinating music.
The title song,”Left alone”,was written by Mal for the music,and Billie for the lyrics.

Where’s the love that’s made to fill my heart
Where’s the one from whom I’ll never part
First they hurt me then desert me
I’m left alone,all alone
Where’s the house that I can call my home
Where’s the place from which I’ll never roam
own or city,it’s a pity
I’m left alone,all alone

Seek and find they allways say
Bup up ’til now it’s not that way
Maybe fate has let her pass me by
Or perharps we’ll meet before I die
Hearts will open,but until then
I’m left alone,all alone.

So long, Mal.
By Jean-Marie Juif.
**
Jackie McLean- Alto Sax
Al Dreares- Drums
Julian Euell- Bass
Mal Waldron- Piano
**
01. Left Alone 6:02
02. Catwalk 6:52
03. You Don’t Know What Love Is 5:50
04. Minor Pulsation 8:11
05. Airegin 7:08
06. Mal Waldron:the Way He Remembers Billy Holiday 4:08
**


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