It is hard to think of a classier musician in jazz than Cedar Walton. The pianist has a wonderful knowledge of the piano and compositional technique, and the music he makes is both thoughtful and accessible. Joining him on this album are Vincent Herring on tenor saxophone, Buster Williams on bass and Willie Jones III on drums. These musicians have played together for years in one context or another and the experience shows as the music is deeply in the pocked and swinging from the first note. It is interesting to listen to Herring switch to tenor from his usual alto saxophone, and he sounds good, with a deep vibrant tone and fluid improvising. He gets extended solos on Stevie Wonder's "Another Star" and Sonny Rollins' hard bop standard "No Moe" and makes the best of them. Wlaton's lyricism and respect for the melodic nature of jazz comes through very well on this recording especially on his original "Dear Ruth" and a slow and pointed version of John Coltrane's "Naima." The only soft spot for me was their version of “Over the Rainbow,” a song I’ve never really cared for and the arrangement seemed unnecessarily florid. But that is just the nature of the song and a minor quibble. Williams and Jones are integral to the success of this album; they are locked in throughout and provide an excellent foundation for the music. It is hard to imagine any fan of mainstream jazz not enjoying this album, the music is swinging, subtle and characterized by careful thought and consideration.
Voices Deep Within - amazon.com
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Unnatural Ways - We Aliens (Tzadik, 2016) ****
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