Archive for the Mal WALDRON Category

Thad JONES, Frank WESS, Teddy CHARLES, Mal WALDRON – Olio 1957

Posted in Doug WATKINS, Elvin JONES, Frank WESS, JAZZ, Mal WALDRON, Teddy CHARLES, Thad JONES on December 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Thad JONES, Frank WESS, Teddy CHARLES, Mal WALDRON – Olio 1957
1999 Issue. OJCCD 1004-2


The title is not misspelled, and the Sonny Rollins tune is not played here. (Ira Gitler made this point in the original liner notes; it’s a point still worth making.) “Olio” is an old vaudeville term meaning “medley” or “variety”, and that’s what you get in this Prestige jam session from 1957. While some do not like the looseness of jams, this one benefits from two great organizers: Mal Waldron, who could be counted on to bring ambitious tunes to his session, and Teddy Charles, producer of Prestige’s most “advanced” ‘Fifties dates. It’s Teddy’s production, and he also brings his distinctive vibes sound, giving us a different-tasting Olio.
The group is unfamiliar, but its members are not. Waldron and Doug Watkins had played on many Prestige jam sessions, Thad Jones and Frank Wess were on a 1954 date for Debut, and Charles was there with Elvin Jones on Miles’ Blue Moods. With this familiarity, the sound gels early. It opens with Waldron’s “Potpourri”, which was also done by John Coltrane. The contrapuntal theme, a bit blurred on the Trane version, here stands out, with Charles playing the melody, Wess and Thad playing unison responses. Elvin explodes on the bridge; his cymbals are great and his sticks click like mad. Wess takes the first solo, and makes himself known. His flute was a little breathy on the theme, but here he asserts, stretching fluid lines. Thad is similarly active, starting warm and slowly getting brassy. Charles starts slow while the rhythm pushes on; after four bars of meditation he gets moving, his tone blunt with little vibrato. Left and right hands converse in Waldron’s solo, which is more introspective than anyone else’s. The theme returns, and again Elvin steals the show.

“Blues Without Woe” is as described, a 12-bar pattern that sounds like a piece of a larger song. Thad’s solo sticks to theme in the first chorus, then gets more adventurous. Like “Potpourri” he starts subdued with short phrases, quickly developing into long boppy lines. He stays relaxed, even in his shouts. Charles comes on quiet, his rolling patterns sounding cool and intellectual. Wess, on tenor this time, is very mellow, recalling Lester even when his solo gains energy – a controlled heat which befits this track. Waldron’s solo is a series of patterns. Walked around the chords and repeated to great effect. Elvin crashes up a storm on his first round of fours, and snares us in the second round. The horns are more energetic on the fours, and Charles plays chords for the first time. The theme is played a single time, as it was in the beginning, and the happy blues come to an end.

“Touche” is Waldron’s best tune on the album, a clever bit of call-and-response with Wess’ flute sounding especially lovely. Wess opens with a handful of twittering figures, and sends us off with a long funky line, with the slightest gutteral sound at the end. Charles’ solo is a glory to behold. He starts off cerebral, his sounds picks up heat, Charles gets animated, and when he stops the excitement is visceral. Waldron’s solo begins just before Charles’ ends, heavy chords on the left side, deft notes on the right. Wess and Thad trade fours on the close, and the last half of the theme brings us to the end.

Charles’ “Dakar” is a revelation. The famous version was recorded two months later with Coltrane and two baritones. That version was dark and mysterious; what a difference a lineup makes! Charles parallels Waldron on the rhythmic opening; the vibes make the thunderous chords lighter. The theme is stated by Wess, and Thad’s harmony part is so high and pure it sounds like a second flute. The Trane version was a smoky, busy seaport; this is a graceful lady on a distant shore. Wess opens in the lower register, playing it slow and sensual, trilling a bit as the lady beckons you closer. The second chorus is higher and cheerful; you are now beside the lady, and she does a dance for you. Charles’ solo is low and sparse; as on Blue Moods he says a lot with a few notes. Thad’s solo is warm and confident where the others were exotic; perhaps he is a visitor to this distance place. Some nice dissonant chords from Charles open Waldron’s solo, which is brittle and percussive like some of his others. This “Dakar” is a nice place to visit; Coltrane would show us its other side later.

Warm chords and soft brushes open “Embraceable You”, a feature for Thad. Charles chords with Waldron, making the comping wonderfully thick. Thad never states the theme fully; that is up to Wess’ tenor, which really sounds like Lester this time around. The sophisticated sax takes us out, with a nice descending figure at the end.

“Hello Frisco” has an involved, clustered theme in which trumpet and sax weave while Charles dances on top. Waldron’s solo is sparse, reminiscent of “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise”; he then chords thick around Thad’s sad solo. Charles gets bluesy, with a fair bit of vibrato; it’s his best since “Touche”. Wess’ solo does a slow burn, with more aggression than his last effort. The theme closes it up, and we are left with an album that serves up varying moods, tangy tastes and varied voices. In other words, Olio.
By John Barrett Jr.
A classic Prestige jam session from the late 50s — one with Thad Jones on trumpet, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, Teddy Charles on vibes, Mal Waldron on piano, Doug Watkins on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. Charles is amazing, as he is on all of his Prestige recordings, and he plays with a dark edge that you seldom hear from other vibists at the time. Waldron’s the great unsung hero of these sessions, as his playing and compositions are consistently remarkable, and which provide great accompaniment for the horn players. Tracks include the fantastic “Dakar”, plus “Touche”, “Blues Without Woe”, and “Potpourri”.
From Dusty Groove.
Trumpeter Thad Jones receives first billing on this all-star outing, but vibraphonist Teddy Charles, who contributed three of the six selections (two of the other songs are by pianist Mal Waldron, while the lone standard is “Embraceable You”) was really the musical director. Jones, Charles, and Waldron are joined by Frank Wess (doubling on tenor and flute), bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Elvin Jones for a set of modern hard bop. Although this was not a regular group and there is not an obvious leader, the music is on a higher level than that of a routine jam session. The challenging material and the high quality playing of the young greats makes this fairly obscure modern mainstream set (reissued on CD in 1998) well worth exploring.
By Scott Yanow. AMG.
Thad Jones- (Trumpet)
Mal Waldron- (Piano)
Frank Wess- (Tenor Sax, Flute on tracks 1, 3, 4)
Teddy Charles- (Vibraphone)
Doug Watkins- (Bass)
Elvin Jones- (Drums
01. Potpourri (Waldron) 6:04
02. Blues Without Woe (Charles) 7:58
03. Touché (Waldron) 6:25
04. Dakar (Charles) 6:58
05. Embraceable You (Gershwin, Gershwin) 4:17
06. Hello Frisco (Charles) 6:23
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Mal WALDRON – Spanish Bitch 1970

Posted in JAZZ, Mal WALDRON on December 9, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Mal WALDRON – Spanish Bitch 1970
Ludwigsburg, West Germany, September 18, 1970
Thx to *Bacoso*


A peculiarity of Munich is that it has never had a strongly-distinctive homegrown jazz or improvised music scene. And the quasi-theoretical late-1960s ‘emancipation’ of European jazz that was a key concern of players in – for instance – Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and Wuppertal barely registered in the Bavarian capital. So if you wanted to experiment with recording jazz back then, it was logical to look to the outsiders. And who better to start with than Mal Waldron, a great Munich-based musician with an amazing history: closely associated with Billie Holiday, had been a member of Mingus’s bands, played with Coltrane and Dolphy. Three Munich labels were launched with Mal Waldron discs as first releases – ECM, Japo and Enja.
“Free At Last” was originally issued in an edition of just 500 copies and with no great expectations, but it made waves in Japan, where, it turned out Mal had a cult following. In September 1970, Waldron and Manfred went back into the studio and made a new trio album for the Japanese Victor label ***Spanish Bitch*** (with Isla Eckinger on bass, and Fred Braceful on drums). And the year after that they did “The Call” for Japo, with Mal on electric piano, and Braceful and Eberhard Weber as free-rocking rhythm team , and James Jackson on organ. So you could think of “Free At Last” as not so much a one-off but the first installment of a three year, three album collaboration. I didn’t know Mal well, but met him a few times. Demon chess player, Tai Chi enthusiast, original thinker. He never did find a consistent core of local jazz players to work with in Munich but played often, over a 20 year period, with rock/world music group Embryo, who were good friends of his.
Afterward, he had to relearn his compositions by listening to his own recordings. According to John Fordham in the Guardian, “The collapse was so profound that he relearnt his craft, and recast it in an even leaner and more deliberate mould. He also became increasingly amenable to free jazz and ways of improvising independently of chord sequences.” In 1964 Waldron composed the music for the Marcel Carne film Trois chambres à Manhattan. He moved to Europe the following year, going first to Paris then settling in Munich in 1967, the same year he composed the music for Herbert Danska’s Sweet Love, Bitter Love and 1970 Spanish Bitch.
Mal Waldron- Piano
Isla Eckinger- Bass
Fred Brasful- Drums.
A1. Spanish Bitch
A2. Eleanor Rigby
B1. Black Chant
B2. All That Funk

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Mal WALDRON – Left Alone 1959

Posted in JAZZ, Mal WALDRON on December 7, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Mal WALDRON – Left Alone 1959


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;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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Jeanne LEE & Mal WALDRON – After Hours 1994

Posted in JAZZ, Jeanne LEE, Mal WALDRON on November 30, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Jeanne LEE & Mal WALDRON – After Hours 1994
Recorded at Acousti Studio, Paris, France on May 25-26, 1994.


This CD is a bit of a surprise, a standards session featuring the usually-adventurous singer Jeanne Lee. The set of duets with pianist Mal Waldron are all taken at very relaxed tempoes with only I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart swinging above a slow-medium pace. Lee mostly emphasizes the lyrics, just scatting sparingly on most tunes (although Fire Waltz is totally wordless). Waldron’s accompaniment is typically rhythmic, creatively repetitive, brooding and personal. However it is Lee’s haunting and highly expressive voice that really sticks in one’s memory. ”
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
Like too many utterly original and fearless jazz artists, Jeanne Lee’s audience and reputation seems to reside more within the community of musicians than listeners. Despite remarkable classic recordings with Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley, Andrew Cyrille, Billy Bang, William Parker, Steve Coleman, and of course, Gunter Hampel, Lee has never received the notoriety due a musician with such an impressive resume. Her naked alto, broad interpretive skills, improvisational gifts, and choice of material left her with few peers among vocalists of her generation, Leon Thomas being one candidate. Although a recent review characterized Lee’s voice itself as an “acquired taste,” the above list suggests that more sensitive ears had no such difficulty.
Waldron brings an equally impressive past, having worked with Shepp, Dolphy, Mingus, and Abbey Lincoln, along with his legendary tenure with Billie Holiday. In the late ‘50’s he was musical director for Prestige Records, and he wrote now-classic compositions, some of which appear here.
Waldron recorded a few albums with Lee in the nineties, including After Hours, reissued by Owl/Sunnyside. Recorded in two days, this session features standards and timeless gems rendered with love by two old pros. Their collaboration results in a warm intimacy with the material and each other’s style.
Opening with Ellington’s “Caravan,” the duo simmer the jump out of it, boosting the sensuality until the desert rendezvous becomes a spiritual antecedent to “Midnight at the Oasis.” Waldron’s faultlessly precise minimalism cultivates the tension, and Lee’s timbre, through her improvs and interpretation, amplifies the heat. “You Go to My Head” has the vocalist’s elastic phrasing easily matched by Waldron’s flexibility. His solo manipulates silence and space as much as the piano. Rogers & Hart’s “I Could Write a Book” captures the carefree feel of the tune, with Lee’s solo sounding as natural and personal as humming on a stroll.
In selecting Mingus’ “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” Lee wisely eschews the more famous Joni Mitchell lyric for Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s more definitive version. Waldron creates little miracles with his chords, exploring the mournfulness while composing unforeseen transitions. Likewise, Lee takes dramatic liberties with the melody. Compressed within a little over three minutes, it’s as chill-inducing as the first time you heard Mingus play it.
Lee toasts the pianist with two of his own, first with “Straight Ahead,” using Abbey Lincoln’s lyrics. She leaves lyrics behind all together on the familiar “Fire Waltz.” A standard in Dolphy’s repertoire, the tune finds Lee playful, with Waldron insistent and rhythmic. On Ellington’s “I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart,” she sounds like she’s singing through a smile. Again, her variations of time and texture find a willing accomplice in Waldron.
The closing bittersweet version of Cole Porter’s “Everytime We Say Goodbye” reminds us of the loss of both these giants in the last few years. With so much of Lee’s catalogue hard to find these days, this straightforward love letter to some favorite old songs is a welcome release.
By Rex Butters.
Jeanne Lee- Vocals
Mal Waldron- Piano
The Music
01. Caravan (Ellington, Mills, Tizol) 7:28
02. You Go to My Head (Coots, Gillespie) 7:07
03. I Could Write a Book (Hart, Rodgers) 4:03
04. Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat (Kirk, Mingus) 3:24
05. Straight Ahead (Baker, Lincoln, Waldron) 3:17
06. Fire Waltz (Waldron) 7:21
07. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart (Ellington, Mills, Nemo, Redmond) 4:30
08. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (Porter) 5:10

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Mal WALDRON, Marion BROWN – Much More! 1988

Posted in JAZZ, Mal WALDRON, Marion BROWN on November 19, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Mal WALDRON, Marion BROWN – Much More! 1988
Recorded November 14-15, 1988


Alto saxophonist Marion Brown played on John Coltrane’s Ascension, and he has worked closely with leading figures of the jazz avant-garde, including Sun Ra and Archie Shepp. However, his lyrical – and even tender – tone sets him apart from the more strident voices of his musical generation.

Some musicians go through some awfully weird stuff just to get people to pay attention, Brown told Jazz & Pop magazine in 1967. Well, I’m not about to play the fool. I’m not going to let my hair grow long or wear funny hats. I’m not even particularly interested in having people look at me when I play. I just wish they’d listen. I hope my horn has enough hair and funny hats coming out of it.
Mal Waldron – piano
Marion Brown – alto sax
01. Soul Mates (Waldron) 9:39
02. Someone to Watch Over Me (George & Ira Gershwin) 4:55
03. All God’s Chillum Got Rhythm (Jurmann,Kaper,Kahn) 3:30
04. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers,Hart) 6:37
05. I Can’t Get Started (V. Duke,C. Paker) 6:31
06. The Inch Worm (F. Loesser) 6:30
07. My Old Flame (Johnston , Coslow) 12:50

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Mal WALDRON – Impressions 1959

Posted in JAZZ, Mal WALDRON on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Mal WALDRON – Impressions 1959
1992 Issue.


This CD reissue brings back one of pianist Mal Waldron’s lesser-known sessions from the 1950’s. Teamed up in a trio with bassist Addison Farmer and drummer Al “Tootie” Heath, Waldron performs three originals from what he called his “Overseas Suite” along with a fine song by his wife (“All About Us”) and three standards. Waldron’s brooding Monk-influenced style is heard in its early prime on this excellent release. By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
The Mal Waldron Trio gets things cooking on this late 1950s recording. Not one of Mal’s better known sessions, these tracks show why Waldron is heralded as one of the few inheritors of Monk’s approach to structure and style. Three originals and three standards comprise this album, as well as a composition by Waldron’s wife on “All About Us.”
I would recommend as a first foray into the works of Mal Waldron his album ”Impressions” (1958 Prestige). This was an album Mal did upon returning from a European tour with Billy Holiday and right before emigrating to Europe.

The album is a trio date and while in no way watered down, is more accessible than some of his later works. The fidelity of the album is very good with no remastering and only the original liner notes reproduced. Throughout the album the trio plays with great sympathy. On hearing this, one does not play the game of wishing “so and so” was behind the drums instead.

The album is made up of originals and some standards made their own by the trio. Center to the album is what Mal called his “Overseas Suite”(“Champs Elysees”/”Ciao”/”C’est Formidable”) which is a three sectioned suite for the trio built upon his impressions of Paris. My one bone of contention on this album is the suite is broken up by other non-suite tracks.

However, the non suite tracks are just as good. One of my favorite moments on the album is actually one of the non-suite tracks “All About Us”. The song was actually written by Mal’s wife Elaine. It is very reminiscent of the music written by Italian film director Federico Fellini’s scorer of choice Nino Rota, minus some of the saccharine touches he sometimes injects. The brushed drums and bass dance a happy waltz to the melody presented by a piano.

From the start of his solo career, Mal never settled for constructing songs as a vehicle for his solos. A song routed in the hard-bop style does not often stay there. The last part of the Overseas suite “C’est Formidable” best illustrates this. The song starts off with slow dark chords which float alone until gaining speed with percussive kisses which signal the rest of the trios entrance into the piece. Also witness in this piece how, like few other pianist at this time, Mal was able to effortlessly change the cadence of his piano with in one piece.

Initially conceived during a rehearsal for a UK television special with Billy, “All the Way” starts with a slinking piano figure, which as the piece progresses is replaced by a more vocal voicing. It is one of the few songs from the great American song book in which the absence of one of the many vocalists who have covered it is not noticeable. The same piano figure which had started the song re -enters to end it, reminding us that all we need is indeed, already right here.
By Maxwell Chandler.
Mal Waldron- Piano
Addison Farmer- Bass
Albert “Tootie” Heath- Drums
01. Champs Elysées 6:22
02. All About Us 4:04
03. Ciao! 9:55
04. All the Way 5:47
05. With a Song in My Heart 6:38
06. You Stepped Out of a Dream 5:05
07. C´est Formidable 3:40

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