1. The Bouncer
3. Bell For Bags
5. Underground Memoirs
6. Willie's Groove
7. Got To Get To The Island
8. Martha's Prize
Cedar Walton - Piano
Vincent Herring - Alto sax, tenor sax, flute (tracks 1, 3-5, 7)
Steve Turre‚ - Trombone (tracks 1, 5)
David Williams - Bass
Willie Jones III - Drums
Ray Mantilla - Percussion (track 5)
Cedar Walton is one of those quintessential hard-bop pianists who has long been a mainstay of the jazz scene as a prolific writer, a pianist with his own groups, as well as part of some big-name organizations headed by Art Blakey and J.J. Johnson.
This recent release on High Note showcases the pianist in a variety of settings including his trio, quartet, quintet and sextet as well as featuring Walton's compositional talents on six of the eight tracks. The trio tracks include J.J. Johnson's easily recognizable Lament, along with two of Walton's tunes Willie's Groove, and Martha's Prize. Walton has always been a consummate improviser with long single-note lines which are the personification of modern bop piano, and the previously-noted tunes give him ample opportunity to stretch out.
The dynamic changes completely when the two horns are added to the
front line for the title tune The Bouncer and Underground
Memoirs.The former is an energetic piece with Turre‚ and Herring
offering fine unison playing as they state the musical premise, then
Walton takes a couple of choruses with some fresh ideas. All the while
Williams and Jones lay down solid support before the horns return
to take the tune out. Ray Mantilla on congas is added to the latter
Walton composition which is given a bossa nova treatment.
The remaining tracks Bell For Bags, Halo, and Got To Get To The Island are with multi-reedman Vincent Herring who had worked previously with Walton, and the comfort level is apparent. Each tune gives Herring an opportunity to demonstrate his capability on tenor, flute, and alto in that order on the compositions.
As he approaches his late seventies, Cedar Walton shows no signs of slowing down, and there certainly does not appear to be any diminution in his pianistic capabilities.