Pim

Pimuins Guide to Mal Waldron Records

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I used to help program the Chicago Jazz festival. On September 4, 1982 we had Mal Waldron and Steve Lacy. Four years later Art Lange helped organize a Big Band Monk program using Hall Overton's charts with Don Sickler, Tom Harrell, trumpets; Eddie Bert, trombone; Steve Lacy, Phil Woods, Charlie Rouse, Howard Johnson, saxophones; Mal Waldron, piano; Cecil McBee, bass; Ben Riley, drums

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

In the late '70s or early '80s I heard Mal accompany Sonny Stitt at the Jazz Medium in Chicago. His typical "thematic/motivic" comping inspired some intense, similarly thematic/motivic playing from Stitt. Between sets I talked to Mal, complementing him on what he had played. He couldn't have been nicer.

I would love to have hear that: Mal and Sonny together!

8 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

 

(And BTW, my googling has turned up nothing of the name of his second wife, nor (roughly) when or how they met and/or when they got married — nor any pictures of the two of them. Given Mal’s often dapper appearance, and what I’d consider to be chiseled good looks, I can only imagine they were a handsome couple. Can anyone confirm my assumptions? — especially with any photos?)

 

Mal second wife was called Hiromi. They met and married somewhere in the early ‘80’s. That’s all I know. No pictures to be found on the internet. She and Mal got three more children together.

Edited by Pim

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Posted (edited)

Well David Friesen just replied that he is willing to do a phone interview with me! I can’t believe it. Same goes now for Romanian tenor saxophonist Nicolas Simion. He joined Mal on his last recordings for TUTU. He is also willing to do an interview by phone or email!
 

So now I have some time to prepare a good set of questions. But of course I am no professional interviewer so if you guys have any suggestions for questions or just stuff you would like to know from David or Nicolas (in relation with his connection to Mal) just let me know! Do not hesitate to post them here.

Edited by Pim

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12 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

I used to help program the Chicago Jazz festival .... Four years later Art Lange helped organize a Big Band Monk program using Hall Overton's charts with Don Sickler, Tom Harrell, trumpets; Eddie Bert, trombone; Steve Lacy, Phil Woods, Charlie Rouse, Howard Johnson, saxophones; Mal Waldron, piano; Cecil McBee, bass; Ben Riley, drums

Must have bee a treat ....

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10 hours ago, Pim said:

Mal’s second wife was called Hiromi. They met and married somewhere in the early ‘80’s. That’s all I know. No pictures to be found on the internet. She and Mal had three more children together.

If you ever run across any picture of Hiromi (or the lovely couple), please share them here! Would be nice to see, is all.

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And there goes another week. The '80's were really a very versatile decade for Mal. All kinds of collaborations, formats and styles. Were getting closer to a new decade but there are still plenty of records to go. 

This week started with the second half (or was it the first?) of the legendary Vanguard concert: The Git Go is really almost as good as the Seagulls record, maybe equally as good but I always preferred Seagulls a tiny bit. But the title song really kicks ass with Reggie Workman showing off what a hell of a bassist he was. And the version of Status Seeking is probably even better than the original. Both Rouse as Shaw are really on fire and the whole band swings hard! Some more live records with another great band: Eric Dolphy & Booker Little Remembered Live at Sweet Basil. The original rhythm section with two relatively new young talents (back then of course): Donald Harrison and Terence Blanchard. It's great music but doesn't meet up to the original records. I'm mostly impressed by Harrison. Blanchard has always sounded a little to 'schooled' for me. Excellent player but I miss a little character here and there. Enjoyable but not essential. 

Same goes a little for Our Collines a Treasure which really is a nice recording but Mal has definitely made more interesting trio sessions. It's a pretty straighahead jam session where non of the band members really takes some space to stretch out. The record is rated pretty highly on the web so maybe it's me and everybody should definitely give it a spin and judge for themselves. More interesting to me are the sessions with the highly underrated and pretty obscure French pianist Tchangodei. Tchangodei was born in Benin and has worked not only with Mal but also with Archie Shepp, Kent Carter and Steve Lacy. He has this highly percussive piano style that is both bluesy and afrocentric at the same time. Creative and very interesting pianist to listen to. Three for Freedom is my favorite. A piano duo with the great Archie Shepp on tenor. Shepp sounds very inspired on this date: something that I sometimes missed on his '80's records. The music is bluesy, raw, original, free and very fresh to hear. Highly recommended. The duo record Les Venins D'Afrique is probably even more obscure. It's one of Mal's more interesting piano duets: a 45 minute long journey trough jazz land: there's blues, there's bop, there's African traditional music and there's also some free improvisation. 

This weekend there was the jam session on Soul Note: Remembering the Moment. With names like Julian Priester, Jim Pepper and Eddie Moore it does not always meet up to ones expactations as it really just is nothing more than a jam session. With some rehearsals and fresh compositions it could have been more interesting. Nevertheless it is a very good jam session. All of the guys swing hard and their joy in playing is hearable all trough the record. Nice one! Last record for this week is Both Sides Now, a solo record that took me quite a while to obtain. It's focussing mainly on Mal's more classical oriented side with some classical compositions. Mal jazzes them up a little. I really like it but I don't know how die hard classical music fans would feel about them. I do think Mal always really respected the tradition they were written in and his sound really fits with stuff by Chopin for example.

Thanks again for reading and commenting guys and have a great weekend. 

https://snake-out.blogspot.com

https://snake-out.blogspot.com/2020/12/all-reviews-in-chronological-order.html

https://snake-out.blogspot.com/2020/12/all-reviews-by-rating.html

Small update on the other project: I will have an online ZOOM interview with David Friesen on Monday the 15th! I will publish that in the same week on the Sunday. A week after that a phone interview with the excellent saxophonist Nicolas Simion which I will keep for the 1994-1998 period when Simion was in Mal's quartet. British saxophonist George Haslam has already written down some notes so I am trying to make it a coherent story now. I am also in contact with Reggie Workman and his wife but they have not replied to my last email yet. I also asked them for an email address of Andrew Cyrille. That would be another interesting story to tell!

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Sunday again, and another week full of Mal has passed by! And it was one very good week with some very good records (and also some less interesting of course). 

It was a hell of a start with one of my all time favorite records by Mal: The Super Quartet Live at Sweet Basil really is an all star date with Steve Lacy, Reggie Workman and Eddie Moore. Though the music is widely avaible and the big names it seems pretty unknown surfing websites like RYM and AMG. Anyway, it's a killer live date: Lacy plays some very, very intense solo's, Reggie Workman is in prime form, Moore delivers solid backing and Mal is just kicking ass! The chemistry and interplay is on an incredibly high level and the guys just swing very hard. If you haven't got it yet: get it as fast as you can :)Mal, Dance & Soul was the album on tuesday. Great trio music and lovely duets with the underrated Jim Pepper.  Also a milestone for the fact that it was Mal's first appearance on TUTU records. Fortunately more were to come on that German label and to be honest: I could recommend all of them. Really, a 'Complete TUTU records' would not be a very bad decision. Mosaic would probably not be interested and ENJA doesn't do a lot of boxed sets so chances are nihil of course but just let me fantasize. Preferably with some unreleased sessions! Also on TUTU this week is Mal's duet albums with Jim Pepper: Art of the Duo. Piano sax duets with Mal are always a treat and this is no exception. Some lovely interprations of Monk and a surprisingly beautiful version of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' where Jim Pepper takes the solo spot.

The Lausanne Concert with Swiss pianist René Bottlang is definitely intersting to hear as he is another pianist playing in a very different style than let's say Yosuke Yamashita or Tchangodei. He's a little more classical oriented with slight hints of Keith Jarrett. But I have to say that after 20 minutes it loses my attention. Same goes a little for his solo work for Canadian label Dark Music LTD.: Evidence. Especially the standards are a little too straightforward to make a lasting impression. Not bad but Mal made better solo recordings. It took me a while to obtain a copy. And there was also another encounter with another Italian singer: Flakes with nobody less than Steve Lacy and Enrico Rava. But I really hate it to be honest. I just can't stand her voice and the lack of space for the other musicians is dissapointing. But I am very curious how others experience a record like that. It could of course all be me. Fortunately the closing record of this week is nothing less than a statement of pure beauty: No More Tears (For Lady Day) is one of Mal's best trio records. The playing is very accesible and at ease but it's just really that every note played here is exactly what you want to hear. It's full of soul and feeling and one of the prime examples of how a musician could say so much with such few notes. Highly recommended, especially for those who don't like Mal's more free recordings. 

Again guys, have a great weekend. Thanks all for reading. I am somewhere between 50 and 100 readers a day and that really makes me proud. All the kind words keep me going and of course listening to Mal's music is never a punishment. Tomorrow is my interview with David Friesen. I feel like a teenager having a meet and greet with Justin Bieber...

https://snake-out.blogspot.com/

https://snake-out.blogspot.com/2020/12/all-reviews-in-chronological-order.html

https://snake-out.blogspot.com/2020/12/all-reviews-by-rating.html

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I'll have to listen to Flakes again. I didn't hate it but it didn't blow me away either (which is probably why it's been sitting in the racks untouched for quite a while).

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11 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

I'll have to listen to Flakes again. I didn't hate it but it didn't blow me away either (which is probably why it's been sitting in the racks untouched for quite a while).

Please let me know how you feel about it! :) have to say I also ‘struggle’ with Irene Aebis contributions on some of my Lacy recordings. 

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I love Aebi but it took me many years to feel that way.

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Well guys, yesterday I interviewed David Friesen in a 1.5 hour long Zoom meeting. It was absolutely great. Very friendly guy with a great sense of humor. And still very active! The results are on my blog now. I am nog musical journalist of course but I tried my best. I hope you enjoy reading!

How David Friesen remembers Mal Waldron

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47 minutes ago, Pim said:

Well guys, yesterday I interviewed David Friesen in a 1.5 hour long Zoom meeting. It was absolutely great. Very friendly guy with a great sense of humor. And still very active! The results are on my blog now. I am nog musical journalist of course but I tried my best. I hope you enjoy reading!

How David Friesen remembers Mal Waldron

Nice one!

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Thanks guys!

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This week was again full of pleasant surprises but also a few slight dissapointments. The diversity in sound and setting is incredible.

The second duet with Marion Brown, Much More is as you might expect: it's great. Brown's sound here is so soft, it's like he's whispering trough his horn. It might had something to do with his then recently fixed teeth but I really dig it. It's not as good as their first but it's lovely anyway. Then there's one of my favorite Waldron recordings with such an awesome group: Crowd Scene really seems to be overlooked in his discography and that is very unjustified. Sonny Fortune is steaming here but it's Ricky Ford that really blow's me away. He really is on fire on the first track: one hell of an intense solo. The whole album is in that lovely Waldron style: the music is tense, dark, brooding and it swings very hard. Mal's interactions with Workman are almost thelepathic. Where Are You is a bit surpising in the sense that it's the same group and was recorded the very same day but the sound is very different. It's more gentle and mainstream so to say. Also less intense and for that reason probably a little less interesting.

Both Soul Note records I'll Be Around (with Enrico Rava and singer Tiziana Ghighlioni) and Up and Down (with Chico Freeman and the same singer) fail to really make a lasting impression. Have to say that Ghiglioni's voice is moderate and okay to listen to. But the music on both disc lacks a creative kind of spark that I expected with players like Rava and Freeman. The music isn't bad in any way but it all just sounds like it wasn't really their day. The encounter with Freeman definitely has it's moments. On some of the tracks it comes clear that there was some chemistry and the more uptempo songs are the best.

The pretty rare record with French reed player Thierry Bruneau is really a dissapointment. Live at the Kave has a kickass rhythm session and Mal is in fine form but I have some serious doubts about Bruneau's technical capabilities to play his instruments the right way. I know someone on this board used to own this record and I am curious to how he sees that. The last record for this week is the disc with German vibist and drummer Christian Burchard. Into the Light combines them in a duo setting and a quartet setting. It leads to some interesting moments with incredible interplay. The music is mostly freely improvised on the spot. Interesting stuff but not as good as the Embryo records. There are also some weird choices in the musical selection as some of the tracks are cut off.... 

Last but not least was the interview with bassist David Friesen on his time with Mal of course.

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Mal Waldron spotted on TV last week. Brief clip of him accompanying Billie Holliday on the Kings Road, London in Feb 1959. Last London visit of Billie.

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combine-images-2.jpg

 

Another milestone: we are now entering the '90's. I was born in 1990 and it feels some kind of special that I was alive when this stuff was recorded. It feels sometimes like you missed the bus or something: all of those legends who you adore that you were never managed to see in real life for they passed away already or you were to young. 

This week is full of encounters with fantastic saxophone players: Jim Pepper, Charlie Mariano, Barney Wilen and 4 albums with Steve Lacy. It felt logic to combine some records into one review. Monday was the day of Mal's great encounter with Barney Wilen: on French Story they play movie theme's that are mostly affiliated with French cinema. Of course there's the theme of Ascenseur Pour 'Echafaud but also other great selections including a stunning version of Mal's All Alone (here titled Quiet Temples as it was originally released in 1964 on a Powertree release). It's beautiful, atmospheric very straightahead jazz. It has this cliche 'film noir' feeling I very much like. Autumn Dreams with Charlie Mariano has a little of the same feeling but is not as appealing. Both such great musicians they could have picked more exciting compositions which would have resulted in more.... exciting music. It's a nice listen anyway but does not fully meet up one's expectations.

The concerts with Jim Pepper at the Utopia jazz club are insanely good. Lot's of chemistry, powerful playing by all of the guys and they just swing so freakin' hard. This really was a stunning band. 2 more Tutu discs that are very much worth having. So unfortunate that Jim Pepper passed away not long after these sessions. It would be their last recordings together. The end of a very fruitful relationship. For Tutu he was replaced by Nicolas Simion, a great and highly underrated saxophone player from Romania. If all works out well I have an interview with him coming weekend. 

Then there's all  the stuff with Lacy: four records in only 3 years but they are again all worth having. I Remember Thelonious is probably the least interesting for it contains mostly more interpretations by Monk. Always lovely to have a few of them on a record but here I miss some of their own work. It is nevertheless still very good and people on the web seem to disagree with me. Japan Dream is pretty rare for it was released on the Japanese Egg Farm label. It's very good with an astonishing version of Lacy's 'Blues for Aida'. Favorites for this week are the studio session Hot House and the live session Let's Call This...Esteem. Filled with compositions by Lacy, Waldron, Duke Ellington, Monk, Bud and Herbie Nichols it hardly could go wrong. The chemistry is immense, the setting is awesome. Great music for a very low price.

Spring in Prague is the only trio session for this week. Not as good as 'No More Tears for Lady Day' it still is highly enjoyable record with the same group. It's Mal in a very accesible way. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is nothing more than a compilation of the trio sessions with Carduso and Betsch plus a selection from the record with Wilen. It does contain 2 new tracks but both are not very good. 

One more thing: David Friesen performs with his trio monday night the 29th of March at 20:00 European time. One could find the concert at that time at this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn_EAcyUhNk

 

 

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this last couple of weeks I've been playing Mal pretty much non stop. Along the way picking up a few items the most outstanding of which is the Super Quartet at Sweet Basil. Quite rightly you give it 5 stars. This is a great service you're doing. A book surely beckons...

 

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1 hour ago, Clunky said:

this last couple of weeks I've been playing Mal pretty much non stop. Along the way picking up a few items the most outstanding of which is the Super Quartet at Sweet Basil. Quite rightly you give it 5 stars. This is a great service you're doing. A book surely beckons...

 

Thanks Clunky, that was exactly what I wanted to achieve with writing the blog so that is a huge compliment! 

Small teaser for the Utopia discs with Jim Pepper, for I have the feeling these Tutu discs are still pretty unknown.

 

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On 3/27/2021 at 1:01 PM, Pim said:

Thanks Clunky, that was exactly what I wanted to achieve with writing the blog so that is a huge compliment! 

Small teaser for the Utopia discs with Jim Pepper, for I have the feeling these Tutu discs are still pretty unknown.

 

Yesterday I received Volume 1 of "...at Utopia", i  can see why you rate it so highly...Because of mix up by the seller i was earlier sent The Git Go in error but allowed to keep. So two very nice Waldron discs for the price of one.

 

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1 hour ago, Clunky said:

Yesterday I received Volume 1 of "...at Utopia", i  can see why you rate it so highly...Because of mix up by the seller i was earlier sent The Git Go in error but allowed to keep. So two very nice Waldron discs for the price of one.

 

You're a lucky man Clunky! Excellent live music :) Nice gesture by the seller also. Great to see those sellers still exist.

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On 3/28/2021 at 8:01 AM, Pim said:

Thanks Clunky, that was exactly what I wanted to achieve with writing the blog so that is a huge compliment! 

Small teaser for the Utopia discs with Jim Pepper, for I have the feeling these Tutu discs are still pretty unknown.

 

They have been huge favorites of mine for some 20 plus years 

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Just listened to that YouTube, what great music.  But now I can't find a decent priced copy anywhere...

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There’s one at Discogs for around 22 euros and one at Amazon.co.uk for around 18 pounds. It’s not cheap indeed :(

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