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JSngry

Walton-Higgins

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So, yeah, you put Cedar Walton & Billy Higgins together on ANYBODY'S record and shit starts happening. I don't mean from the soloists per se, but behind the soloists. Those two have their own conversation going all the time, and no matter who's on top, they'll have THAT to work with, a truly mind-melded harmonic/rhythmic synergy of perpetual pocket.

Just want to call out how so many times, what the soloist is doing that sounds so good is because those two are doing their thing.

"Accompaniment" is not the right word for it. "Infrastructure Creation", maybe?

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I'm most familiar with their work for BN. but aware enuff to know that they worked together a fair bit post-BN, can you recommend something from the later period?  An I like 'infrastructure creation;, great description.  Who's you favorite bassist with those two?

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16 minutes ago, danasgoodstuff said:

Who's you favorite bassist with those two?

Ok, obviously(?) Sam Jones, but what really brought this whole thing into focus for me this morning was about 3-4 spins of the Slide Hampton Roots album (on Criss-Cross, see if Tommy's Jazz Depot is still gots it in stock and go carpe diem accordingly), with David Williams on bass. Now, David Williams was a fine, fine, fine bassist, who could - and did - more than adequately hang with this crowd. But for no other reason than birth-date, he didn't have life-experience that somebody like Sam Jones did. so there's going to be little, uh..."linguistical nuances" that he's not going to have that somebody like Sam Jones or Larry Ridley or whoever else it might have been, would have had, just from breathing that air at that time. And it's to David Williams' credit that he does not, because if he did, that would mean he was speaking in somebody else's voice, not his own.

So, you know, I'm listening to this record, and it doesn't make one bit of difference, and that's because it's really NOT about Cedar/(bassist)/Billy - it's about Cedar and Billy first and foremost. Of course, you need an excellent bassist to not fuck it up, but an excellent bassist ain't gonna make them do anything that they weren't going to do any way.

You're right they did a fair bit (actually more than  a fair bit!) post-BN, so,...just go for it, and let your tenor player be your guide, but remember - solos/soloists are really not the point of this lens!

 

and not to imply that they were the only people to do this. Hell, that's what any great rhtym section does. Just to say that they got their own thing, those two. THEIR thing. Sure, it was a combination of two personal things, but put them together...it's one of those whole greater than the sum of the parts thing, they really become one thing.

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JSngry, thanks for the prompt reply, think I'll got for this then: Cedar%21_%28Cedar_Walton_album_-_cover_a

I've had my eye on it for awhile and it's got KD.

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5 minutes ago, danasgoodstuff said:

JSngry, thanks for the prompt reply, think I'll got for this then: Cedar%21_%28Cedar_Walton_album_-_cover_a

I've had my eye on it for awhile and it's got KD.

I have this. Nice disc, but my only quibble is that it features the trademark Richard Alderson / Prestige engineering, whereby the piano (other instruments are fine) sounds as if it was recorded underwater.

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It's not a "pocket" thing (Farmer wasn't a "pocket" player), but the work that Walton, Jones and Higgins did behind Art Farmer on those EastWind releases was sublime.

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Or...look for those records with Clifford Jordan, any of them. ALL of them.

2 minutes ago, mjzee said:

It's not a "pocket" thing (Farmer wasn't a "pocket" player),...

The hell he wasn't!!!!!!

His pocket was more likely to have a watch in it than a joint, but...a pocket be a pocket, no matter what form it takes or what it has in it!

Ok, for years, I though it was Hank, and of course it ws, but dammit, it happens with Charles Davis too, these two (+The Eternal Sam Jones)...Infrastructure indeed!

 

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Well, there's also that first EASTERN REBELLION album, the Steeplechase live dates with Bob Berg, and that Delos record with the largish horn section... 

 

Edited by Joe

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Love the Steeplechase Albums with Clifford Jordan.

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What I've always loved about Billy's playing is the constant "conversational" type of accents he brings, he's not like Blakey or Max, who chatter away, but more often than not have some sort of pattern-in-mind thing going one (especially Blakey), he's more like Roy in that he just drops that shit in where he feels like it - and where he feels like it seems to always be always the right place for what's going on at any given moment in the conversation.

What got me on the Hampton album was after about the 2nd time through, I was label to more or less listen to the two of them on that record ins strictly rhythmic terms, an ddamn that's some busy shit, not cluttered or otherwise deleterious, busy. Like, that's a helluva lot of moving parts, not just on occasion, but all the way though. And again, no real "pattern" basis to it. Personally/mutually attuned reflexes aplenty, but no patterns. Just a constant bouncy-bounce infinity of rhythmic action. I bet if somebody took the time to graph out the overall accents those two make together during the course of a take, graph it all out into one continuous plot, like X-Axis=time & Y-Axis equal rhythmic hit by instrument (multiple points acceptable for simultaneous hits of what ever type)...I bet it would boggle the literal-minded who need proof beyond the aurally obvious. I mean, you could do this for any bobby-waevy jazzmusic and be amazed, but these two, I think, their graph would over time prove to be pretty unique/identifiable, there's a "signature" there...

Here they go again!

 

For that matter, speaking of "Personally/mutually attuned reflexes"...it's about time that at least sometimes when people compare musicians to athletes that they compare the athlete to the musician and not vice-versa.

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Walton and Higgins are brilliant on this, Jackie's last recording.  Jackie's playing is great too. 

 

Nature Boy--Jackie McLean.jpg

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Charles Lloyd’s ACOUSTIC MASTERS is really great and makes me wish he’d record more with more conservative rhythm sections.

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When they played together, I can recall Billy usually looking straight at Cedar with that trademark huge smile on his face.  

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 Walton & Higgins lps just don't do it for me...................cause seeing them jam 1 foot away, nothing can ever top that!!!!!!  

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Love Higgins on the title tune of this.

Donald Byrd - Free Form - YouTube

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All recordings with Clifford Jordan (SteepleChase etc ) and Art Farmer (East Wind) from the 70`s ....

Edited by soulpope

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Jim is right on here. I love the term "infrastructure." It's not just that Cedar and Billy so often hit the syncopated eighth notes at the same time; it's the way the accumulation of those accents,-- both those they hit in unison but also the ones that get batted back and forth like a tennis ball -- builds a groove that envelopes the beat and the band.

A great example of the dialogue between Cedar and Billy is the way they play behind Dexter and Freddie' on "Milestones" in 1972 on Dexter's "Generations." (The bassist is Buster Williams). Listen especially to the second A section in Dexter's second chorus, starting at the 2:05 mark -- Cedar plays a series of anticipatory off-beats and Higgins' chatter connects them via quarter-note triplets on his snare. Cedar is actually a fairly busy comper. He's building his own strata of melody -- not just rhythm but melody -- that runs concurrently with the soloist-- yet also interacts with the soloist. It's a tricky thing to do because you easily overplay, forcing the soloist to play with you rather than the other way around. Cedar is also reacting as well as leading. Its a two-way conversation. Gotta have GREAT taste to do this. I also think there's something about the way Cedar and Billy both feel their 8th notes in the same way -- they're very even, almost but not quite like straight 8ths,

Back in 1994, when I was working for the Dayton Daily News, I interviewed Cedar and asked him about why he and Billy sounded so good together. He described the drummer this way: "I like to describe his approach as immediate in terms of feeling, swing and intensity. It's not gradual. Mr. Higgins' intensity is immediate, which is very soothing to the player. There's no waiting around for the groove to build. It's built in. So it's him that's designing the piece. In a away, it's just flowing through you into the keys and the concept of the group."

For the record, I just went through the Tom Lord Discography and counted 135 recordings that have Cedar and Billy together. Tthe first time Cedar and Billy appeared on a record together was in August 1965 on Eddie Harris' "The In Sound" (with Ron Carter). The last was Dale Barlow's  "Manhattan After Hours" in late 2000, about six months before Billy died. Only nine of the Walton-Higgins records were on Blue Note (Morgan, Mobley, Byrd), all done within 20 months between Sept. 1966 and May 1968.

 

Another great example, especially the tag. David Williams is the bassist. 1985

 

 

Edited by Mark Stryker

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2 hours ago, Mark Stryker said:

Jim is right on here. I love the term "infrastructure." It's not just that Cedar and Billy so often hit the syncopated eighth notes at the same time; it's the way the accumulation of those accents,-- both those they hit in unison but also the ones that get batted back and forth like a tennis ball -- builds a groove that envelopes the beat and the band.

A great example of the dialogue between Cedar and Billy is the way they play behind Dexter and Freddie' on "Milestones" in 1972 on Dexter's "Generations." (The bassist is Buster Williams). Listen especially to the second A section in Dexter's second chorus, starting at the 2:05 mark -- Cedar plays a series of anticipatory off-beats and Higgins' chatter connects them via quarter-note triplets on his snare. Cedar is actually a fairly busy comper. He's building his own strata of melody -- not just rhythm but melody -- that runs concurrently with the soloist-- yet also interacts with the soloist. It's a tricky thing to do because you easily overplay, forcing the soloist to play with you rather than the other way around. Cedar is also reacting as well as leading. Its a two-way conversation. Gotta have GREAT taste to do this. I also think there's something about the way Cedar and Billy both feel their 8th notes in the same way -- they're very even, almost but not quite like straight 8ths,

Back in 1994, when I was working for the Dayton Daily News, I interviewed Cedar and asked him about why he and Billy sounded so good together. He described the drummer this way: "I like to describe his approach as immediate in terms of feeling, swing and intensity. It's not gradual. Mr. Higgins' intensity is immediate, which is very soothing to the player. There's no waiting around for the groove to build. It's built in. So it's him that's designing the piece. In a away, it's just flowing through you into the keys and the concept of the group."

For the record, I just went through the Tom Lord Discography and counted 135 recordings that have Cedar and Billy together. Tthe first time Cedar and Billy appeared on a record together was in August 1965 on Eddie Harris' "The In Sound" (with Ron Carter). The last was Dale Barlow's  "Manhattan After Hours" in late 2000, about six months before Billy died. Only nine of the Walton-Higgins records were on Blue Note (Morgan, Mobley, Byrd), all done within 20 months between Sept. 1966 and May 1968.

 

 

Your commentary is fascinating.  I never liked this record, found it sloppy or needed rehearsal.  In light of what you wrote I relistened.  I still think it sounds sloppy (IMHO), but more think the culprit is the interplay between Dexter and Freddie.  Dexter is just a little too behind the beat, and isn't matching up well with Freddie on the unisons.  Buster's bass is also a little off, not really hitting the groove with Cedar and Billy.  As for Cedar... I know that Billy was Dexter's favorite drummer, but Dex recorded very sparingly with Cedar - just these few Prestiges and some Columbia dates late in his career.  I think Dex sounded best with more blues-based pianists, less so with the more baroque inclined (I'm also not a fan of George Cables's work with Dex).  So, yeah, this performance just doesn't jell for me.  Glad you enjoyed it, though.

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18 hours ago, JSngry said:

Or...look for those records with Clifford Jordan, any of them. ALL of them.

The hell he wasn't!!!!!!

His pocket was more likely to have a watch in it than a joint, but...a pocket be a pocket, no matter what form it takes or what it has in it!

Ok, for years, I though it was Hank, and of course it ws, but dammit, it happens with Charles Davis too, these two (+The Eternal Sam Jones)...Infrastructure indeed!

 

Am I alone in thinking that Billy Higgins was not always served by "the Blue Note sound" (can't tell if it is related to the Van Gelder studio)? On the "Breakthrough" album it's possible to hear a lot of the subtleties in his playing, whereas he sounds kind of "smoothed out" to me on the BN:s from the reverb-heavy later 60s.

Some (louder?) drummers, like Elvin, seem to be less impacted by whatever sonic signature that BN production applied during this period. 

Edited by Daniel A

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24 minutes ago, mjzee said:

Your commentary is fascinating.  I never liked this record, found it sloppy or needed rehearsal.  In light of what you wrote I relistened.  I still think it sounds sloppy (IMHO), but more think the culprit is the interplay between Dexter and Freddie.  Dexter is just a little too behind the beat, and isn't matching up well with Freddie on the unisons.  Buster's bass is also a little off, not really hitting the groove with Cedar and Billy.  As for Cedar... I know that Billy was Dexter's favorite drummer, but Dex recorded very sparingly with Cedar - just these few Prestiges and some Columbia dates late in his career.  I think Dex sounded best with more blues-based pianists, less so with the more baroque inclined (I'm also not a fan of George Cables's work with Dex).  So, yeah, this performance just doesn't jell for me.  Glad you enjoyed it, though.

Curious as to the blues based pianists are that played Often with Dexter. Other than the blues based Kenny Drew and Horace Parlan, Dexter recorded often with Tete Montoliu, sometimes with Ronnie Mathews, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Barry Harris and George Cables. I consider Cedar Walton just as blues based as any of that latter group.

In my opinion, he fit very well with all of them.  

 

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44 minutes ago, mjzee said:

Your commentary is fascinating.  I never liked this record, found it sloppy or needed rehearsal.  In light of what you wrote I relistened.  I still think it sounds sloppy (IMHO), but more think the culprit is the interplay between Dexter and Freddie.  Dexter is just a little too behind the beat, and isn't matching up well with Freddie on the unisons.  Buster's bass is also a little off, not really hitting the groove with Cedar and Billy.  

Oh, those two 1972 Dexter Prestige sessions that Ozzie Cadena produced (3 LPs, 2 CDs) have bugged the living dogpiss out of me since they were released. No, the playing is not anybody's best (nor is it their worst, I'd give it all a solid B+), but the biggest f-up is not in the playing, it's in the abomination that is the horribly, grotesque reverb that some ungodly combination of Cadena/Van Gelder decided was the thing to do at the time. No, it was not. Maybe they were trying to cover up the "looseness", or maybe they were trying to make it sound "modern" but all they did was blur it up. That's all they did. NOT fixed in the mix!

When they put out that Dexter Compete Prestige box, I prayed to every known and unknown god of every known and unknown plane of existence that they would get that crap out of there so we could hear the basic playing for what it was.

No such luck.

36 minutes ago, Daniel A said:

Am I alone in thinking that Billy Higgins was not always served by "the Blue Note sound" (can't tell if it is related to the Van Gelder studio)? On the "Breakthrough" album it's possible to hear a lot of the subtleties in his playing, whereas he sounds kind of "smoothed out" to me on the BN:s from the reverb-heavy later 60s.

Some (louder?) drummers, like Elvin, seem to be less impacted by whatever sonic signature that BN production applied during this period. 

I think you just have to learn to listen to the playing on the records as separate from the sound of the records, so that once you learn how/what people play, you can hear it regardless of how the record sounds.

And sure, that's a retro-fitting notion, but if you're going to listen to some of the same records for decades on end (hell yeah!, some of them!), then hey, an evolved listening approach is as desirable as it is inevitable.

Just saying, Billy always be Billy, no matter how the records differ in the aural perspective with which they present him. Forewarned is forearmed!

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17 hours ago, JSngry said:

What I've always loved about Billy's playing is the constant "conversational" type of accents he brings, he's not like Blakey or Max, who chatter away, but more often than not have some sort of pattern-in-mind thing going one (especially Blakey), he's more like Roy in that he just drops that shit in where he feels like it - and where he feels like it seems to always be always the right place for what's going on at any given moment in the conversation.

I have seen Walton and Higgins live twice in different editions of Eastern Rebellion. Higgins always had big ears and reacted/commented on most everything his bandmates played. Being a conversational player myself, I really loved and appreciated this. You have to know what you're doing to open up and listen while playing. Many seem to be totally occupied with their own improvisational process. Some admitted this to me.

Edited by mikeweil

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11 minutes ago, mikeweil said:

I have seen Walton and Higgins live twice in different editions of Eastern Rebellion. Higgins always had big ears and reacted/commented on most everything his bandmates played. Being a conversational player myself, I really loved and appreciated this. You have to know what you're doing to open up and listen while playing. Many seem to be totally occupied with their own improvisational process. Some admitted this to me.

I also find that different "cultures" have widely different notions of what constitutes a proper conversation. There are those who cannot stand to be spoken to while speaking and get all pissy, and then there are those who appreciate the reaction and go with it, built it into what they're already saying, feed on it. This is over simplified in "racial" terms. but it applies to music every bit as much as it does verbal. And not just improvised music!

Some people just don't liked to be touched while they are touching. Good luck figuring out how that all works.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

I think you just have to learn to listen to the playing on the records as separate from the sound of the records, so that once you learn how/what people play, you can hear it regardless of how the record sounds.

And sure, that's a retro-fitting notion, but if you're going to listen to some of the same records for decades on end (hell yeah!, some of them!), then hey, an evolved listening approach is as desirable as it is inevitable.

Just saying, Billy always be Billy, no matter how the records differ in the aural perspective with which they present him. Forewarned is forearmed!

I do not disagree, and did not intend to imply I do not/cannot enjoy Billy Higgins on Blue Note. It was more an observation that different drummers come out differently, depending on the recording. 

I say this as someone who first became aware of Billy HIggins from his playing on a number of Blue Note albums from the second half of the 60s. But I did not understand his greatness until I had also heard him on a number of non-BN recordings. Going back to the BN stuff now, it's all there, of course. And I guess I still wonder why this was the case.

Edited by Daniel A

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I totally hear ya' about that. Maybe what helped me hear him on BN differently was having heard his Ornette record first, that's how it worked for me, Ornette before BN.

The "Blue Note sound", a very real thing, and different once Frances Wolff took over from Alfred Lion (why, I have no idea). I think the Lion sound was "drier", not as much reverb, a more "immediate" sound and blend. Dippin' and, say, Sixth Sense, different sounding records, really. Or maybe just variations on the same sound. Still, different.

Anyway, yeah, Billy Higgins, no doubt!

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