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Peter Friedman

Mal Waldron

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Mal Waldron has been a sideman (as well as a leader) on a large number of Hard Bop recordings in the 50's and 60's.

I am aware that many here have a very positive opinion of Waldron. I suspect much of that view comes from his writing and playing that relates to his non-Hard Bop recordings, most of them later than the 50's and early 60s.

I have never understood his appeal as a Hard Bop sideman or even leader with musicians such as Jackie McLean, Gene Ammons, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer, Kenny Burrell, Curtis Fuller and even the non- Hard Bop tenor man Paul Quinichette.

To my taste, there were numerous piano players active during that period whose solos were far more interesting, and fit better with those musicians than Mal Waldron. I am thinking of Kenny Drew, Duke Jordan, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Richard Wyands, Wynton Kelly, Hampton Hawes, Ray Bryant, Elmo Hope, and Red Garland.

I know there are a variety of factors that determine if a musician is hired for a record date. It is nonetheless disappointing (to me) that Waldron was on so many sessions, especially on Prestige, rather that any of the musicians I listed above.

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I am a very big fan of his work on the Eric Dolphy Five Spot date. Some of my favourite work by a non leader pianist.

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I like the Mal records on Prestige from that era -- and his sideman playing is appealing. I can't explain it beyond the economy, taste, and tone he brings to the table. Others have it too, but they have their own touch.

In terms of our taste -- try as I might, I can't get into Hampton Hawes. Any suggestions?

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9 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

...try as I might, I can't get into Hampton Hawes. Any suggestions?

listen to more Mal Waldron records?

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1 hour ago, Rabshakeh said:

I am a very big fan of his work on the Eric Dolphy Five Spot date. Some of my favourite work by a non leader pianist.

Think how good he would have sounded on those if the piano had been anywhere close to in-tune.

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50 minutes ago, JSngry said:

listen to more Mal Waldron records?

:lol:

Mal Waldron is always the most Mal Waldron he can be, even when he hadn't fully become Mal.

Not every appearance is stellar but anything he plays on stays in the collection for sure.

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1 hour ago, clifford_thornton said:

 

In terms of our taste -- try as I might, I can't get into Hampton Hawes. Any suggestions?

He had a period in the late 60's where his playing and writing showed a Tyner influence.  Try some of those titles.

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1 hour ago, clifford_thornton said:

In terms of our taste -- try as I might, I can't get into Hampton Hawes. Any suggestions?

Clifford,

Generally speaking, I prefer Hawes' music after he was released from prison, rather than before. 

If you haven't heard them already, I would recommend these two albums:  

- Blues for Bud (Black Lion)
- Hamp's Piano (MPS)

Both were recorded in Europe while Hawes was on tour there. 

 

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3 hours ago, Peter Friedman said:

Mal Waldron has been a sideman (as well as a leader) on a large number of Hard Bop recordings in the 50's and 60's.

I am aware that many here have a very positive opinion of Waldron. I suspect much of that view comes from his writing and playing that relates to his non-Hard Bop recordings, most of them later than the 50's and early 60s.

I have never understood his appeal as a Hard Bop sideman or even leader with musicians such as Jackie McLean, Gene Ammons, Donald Byrd, Art Farmer, Kenny Burrell, Curtis Fuller and even the non- Hard Bop tenor man Paul Quinichette.

To my taste, there were numerous piano players active during that period whose solos were far more interesting, and fit better with those musicians than Mal Waldron. I am thinking of Kenny Drew, Duke Jordan, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Richard Wyands, Wynton Kelly, Hampton Hawes, Ray Bryant, Elmo Hope, and Red Garland.

I know there are a variety of factors that determine if a musician is hired for a record date. It is nonetheless disappointing (to me) that Waldron was on so many sessions, especially on Prestige, rather that any of the musicians I listed above.

Interesting thoughts .... to me Mal Waldron had a number of great sideman dates on Prestige/NewJazz .... other recordings/sessions from that period suffered from the "Prestige approach" (aka assembling musicians rather by coincidence) and I'm not sure whether a different pianist would have saved the day...

 

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15 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

Clifford,

Generally speaking, I prefer Hawes' music after he was released from prison, rather than before. 

If you haven't heard them already, I would recommend these two albums:  

- Blues for Bud (Black Lion)
- Hamp's Piano (MPS)

Both were recorded in Europe while Hawes was on tour there. 

 

thanks! I'll try those. I am aware of the MPS/Saba but never had a copy.

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Part of the appeal of all those studio jam sessions comes from Mal's composing, which were included pretty regularly.  They helped these records feel less like jams.  I'm thinking of records like Dakar (usually under Coltrane's name), although Teddy Charles did more of the composing on that one.

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2 hours ago, clifford_thornton said:

I like the Mal records on Prestige from that era -- and his sideman playing is appealing. I can't explain it beyond the economy, taste, and tone he brings to the table. Others have it too, but they have their own touch.

In terms of our taste -- try as I might, I can't get into Hampton Hawes. Any suggestions?

I've never had any strong feelings about him one way or another myself, mostly because he usually works in the trio idiom, which is not really my bag a lot of the time. A Little Copenhagen Night Music on Arista-Freedom with Henry Franklin & Michael Carvin is pretty good (and obviously very cheap).

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1 hour ago, felser said:

He had a period in the late 60's where his playing and writing showed a Tyner influence.  Try some of those titles.

 

1 hour ago, HutchFan said:

Clifford,

Generally speaking, I prefer Hawes' music after he was released from prison, rather than before. 

If you haven't heard them already, I would recommend these two albums:  

- Blues for Bud (Black Lion)
- Hamp's Piano (MPS)

Both were recorded in Europe while Hawes was on tour there. 

 

Strong +1 on Blues for Bud, which has some perceptible Tyner influence.  My favorite and most played Hawes album, and I own quite a few (though sadly not Hamp's Piano).

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10 minutes ago, T.D. said:

 

Strong +1 on Blues for Bud, which has some perceptible Tyner influence.  My favorite and most played Hawes album, and I own quite a few (though sadly not Hamp's Piano).

My favorite will always be High in the Sky.  CT, if you were to read his autobiography, Raise Up Off Me, it would likely pull you into his music,

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never read it but am curious about it. The interview he did with Art Taylor is pretty zany.

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Oh, you will want to read it. It's deep, seriously deep.

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6 hours ago, JSngry said:

listen to more Mal Waldron records?

 

5 hours ago, felser said:

He had a period in the late 60's where his playing and writing showed a Tyner influence.  Try some of those titles.

 

5 hours ago, HutchFan said:

Clifford,

Generally speaking, I prefer Hawes' music after he was released from prison, rather than before. 

If you haven't heard them already, I would recommend these two albums:  

- Blues for Bud (Black Lion)
- Hamp's Piano (MPS)

Both were recorded in Europe while Hawes was on tour there. 

 

The first three trio albums  on Contemporary, and I have a soft spot for two later ones on Contemporary, "The Green Leaves of Summer" and "Here and Now."
I would avoid the three "All Night Session" albums -- the personnel looks appealing (Hawes, Jim Hall, Red Mitchell, and Bruz Freeman) but IMO they never get off the ground.

From "Here and Now" (less Bud now, a personal take on Bill Evans begins to creep in)  

 

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10 minutes ago, Milestones said:

Wasn't the topic Mal Waldron?

Yes, but  Clifford chimed in to ask for Hawes recommendations. Don't blame me for responding.

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28 minutes ago, Milestones said:

Wasn't the topic Mal Waldron?

I had the very same thought.

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Back to the original post...I like Mal, but am not so much into his early "purely hard bop" recordings.

I much more often reach for his, so to speak, more outside or post-bop recordings. For instance, the aforementioned Five Spot with Dolphy (despite out of tune piano), Seagulls of Kristiansund, duets with Steve Lacy such as Sempre Amore, etc. Granted I don't expect those are much to Peter's (original poster's) taste.

OTOH, there are later straight-ahead Mal recordings that I also like a lot. So maybe I just prefer his later playing.

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I like the Prestige work, but my favorite Mal is almost all on Enja.

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I love Mal (I know, I don’t talk a lot about it…) but I mostly love him post 1960 and even more after 1964 when his sound changed.

I think the reason why he is on so many Prestige recordings was a practical thing. He lived quite near the studios and was able to compose 3 or 4 songs in 24 hours. Mal said in interviews Bob Weinstock used to call him, told him who were going to record the next day, then Mal wrote a few pieces with those players in mind and bring his work to the studios the next day. 
Contracted and avaible: he was probably a logical pick as a pianist. Especially for Prestige, whose records always feel more like sessions than albums. Wasn’t Weinstocks whole philosophy: get some musicians, get some compositions, try to record everything in one take, pay the musicians and see if it sells?

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I love 'The Quest'.  And that was on Prestige.   Why did Waldron record so little 1962-1968?

 

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12 minutes ago, felser said:

I love 'The Quest'.  And that was on Prestige.   Why did Waldron record so little 1962-1968?

 

Damn, I forgot to mention that one. Awesome, and by chance the first Waldron-led recording I bought.

I could imagine a recording drought from roughly 1963-66 due to breakdown / OD and recovery. Could have had some problems before the breakdown. Maybe the move to Europe in '65 also slowed things down.

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