OK, I get that there's been a milestone passing, so if you want to soundtrack your moment of mourning, go here. I had this post planned for today so I am doing it.
Today would have been the 93rd birthday of one of my personal favorites, so I could do no less.
He began in the 1950s, accompanying Billie Holiday during her final years, and proceeded to a hard-bop career of his own after she passed.
But he too had his own struggles with the demon heroin, OD'ing in the early 1960s so badly he lost the ability to play music for a time.
When he cleaned up and returned, he scuttled the former lyricism of his style in favor of an angular, repetitive, almost minimalist approach.
He appeared on and recorded countless sessions, and is responsible for the very first albums ever issued on two seminal Jazz labels, ECM and Enja.
I listen to his records as much as any other artist.... and I have 20 TB of music in here.
There's just something magma-deep about the way Mal Waldron, born this day in 1925, handled a piano and its possibilities.
He passed away back in 2002, but his absence will never diminish his presence on my eternal playlist.
To celebrate, I worked on this (holy shit it's incredible) tape of his quintet performing a sizzling 80-minute set in Belgium in the '70s. This utterly brilliant and sadly unissued recording features trumpet master Manfred Schoof and Steve Lacy's spitting soprano sax spraying like fire all over the top.
Mal Waldron Quintet
Middelheim Jazz Festival
01 One-Upmanship/The Seagulls of Kristiansund
02 Hooray for Herbie
03 Snake Out
04 Russian Melody
Total time: 1:18:05
Mal Waldron - piano
Manfred Schoof - trumpet
Steve Lacy - soprano saxophone
Isla Eckinger - bass
Makaya Ntshoko - drums
could be a master or 1st gen cassette of the pre-FM reels
very slightly remastered and optimized by EN, August 2018
503 MB FLAC/August 2018 archive link
I did very little to this one, except restoring the missing opening phrase, resetting the track markers, and brightening it up a wee bit with the handy dandy Sound Forge 11 Graphic Dynamics tool. It's a tad hissy but I did not use NR because fuck that shit.
I shall return in mere days with yet more fodder for your face, but let's not let the sad news of the day distract too much from the 93rd birthday of Mal Waldron, one of the greatest piano players in the history of American music.--J.
8.16.1925 - 12.2.2002