David Murray, Mal Waldron: Silence (2001) 2008
01. Free For C. T.
03. Hurray For Herbie
04. I Should Care
06. All Too Soon
07. Soul Eyes
David Murray – tenor sax, bass clarinet
Mal Waldron – piano
Label: Justin Time – JUST 186-2
Recorded in Brussels, Belgium; October 5-6, 2001
Engineer: Michael W. Huon
Mastering, Mixing: Billy Szawlowski
Executive Producer: Jim West
Photography: Alan Nahigian
Before his passing, jazz piano legend Mal Waldron recorded these duets with tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist David Murray at a studio in Belgium, finally issued some seven years later.
The session has a somewhat hushed quality, considering the extroverted nature of Murray’s playing. But he has always proved he is more than capable of nuanced, spirit-sensitive expressionism, and with the blue-green tinged style of Waldron, they fit beautifully together.
It’s a mix of standards, originals, familiar pieces from the Waldron book, and at least one choice that is off the beaten path.
The centerpiece of any Waldron recording is his immortal composition “Soul Eyes,” in this case 14 minutes of pure, unadulterated, genuine romance, with Murray on bass clarinet breezing through the pianist’s languorous refrains.
Another well-rendered ballad “I Should Care” is molasses thick, trickling slow, and extremely patient.
It is a difficult chore not to rush the lugubrious tempo in the smallest increment for even the most skilled jazzmen.
A third ballad “All Too Soon” has Murray leading out on tenor in his most restrained moments, and Waldron’s solo is simply captivating.
One of the more compelling pieces in Waldron’s repertoire is “Hurray for Herbie,” a dark, rumbling piece that is mysterious and delicious.
Murray’s melodic interpretation is thin and flattened out as Waldron’s repeat modal framework is as foreboding as it is deliberate and unyielding.
The anomaly is a version of the childlike Miles Davis tune “Jean-Pierre,” as Waldron’s piano goes deep into the gray spectrum of mixed colors and Murray doesn’t play cute.
It seems the first two pieces are reversed, as “Silence” is an upbeat and spastic reactionary bop piece, while “Free for C.T.” is a quiet tune, contrasting lilting piano with scattershot and demonstrative but harnessed bass clarinet.
Regardless, these two play as one marvelously, with all the depth and substance you could ever wish for.
Listeners should be glad these sessions were unearthed, for they are welcome additions to the legacy of two great creative jazz icons.
~Michael G. Nastos[allmusic]