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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron - Live At Dreher, Paris 1981: Round Midnight Vol 1

This first volume of the now legendary Lacy/Waldron duets in the '80s is a double CD, and so is the second. There are also at least two studio recordings from Paris issued by RCA/Bluebird from the same time period and two other live Lacy/Waldron duets on Hat. Are these cats just good pals who like to play together? This is, of course, only partially true and these recordings are the evidence. This pair thinks—at least musically—with a likemindedness that is uncanny. Whether Lacy and Waldron are approaching the work of Thelonious Monk—whose compositions they chose to start their sets with here—or their own works, the emphasis on stating melodic ideas in tandem with harmonic invention is prominent. In the swinging aspect of these duets there is braininess, and likewise in the deeper improvisations there is a tendency to root for melodic invention to provide balance. And that's what is achieved in these glorious sides: balance. Like the Tao, neither man approaches music to be anything other than what it is: the organization of sound, perfect conceptually, and with the proper chops and surrender to the muse, perfect musically. This is evidenced best in the two very different readings here of Monk's "'Round Midnight," one from each man's point of departure in terms of taking apart melody and mode until what is left are painterly, emotional clusters of timbres that still hold the composer's intentions in the forefront—though the tune has been extended and redesigned exponentially. When Lacy moves the entire structure up and octave and Waldron plays both harmony and rhythm, the inner beauty of Monk's character—and what he heard in Gershwin and Harold Arlen songs—becomes evident. In Waldron's "Snake Out," an exercise written particularly for this duet, the counterpoint gets knottier and gnarled and still comes out swinging. The listening is on the intense side, and neither man speaks with anything but a respectful economy—these guys play only what the music calls for, and no more. Waldron's soloing here reflects his kinship with Herbie Nichols: He is a technician in the best sense of the word and possesses a deep lyricism that informs his every key strike. His subtlety is breathtaking. Frank O'Hara wrote in the poem The Day Lady Died that "Mal Waldron whispered across the keyboard," and he does no matter what he's playing. This calls Lacy in from his outer reaches and brings his own sense of melodic genius to the fore. And both men have deep commitments to the jazz root-bed: blues. Entwined on two Monk tunes, two by Lacy, and six by Waldron (there are two versions of "Snake Out" here as well), Lacy and Waldron display what so few duets in jazz history have been able to conjure: true synchronicity. This is a wonderfully gratifying set; one only wishes she or he could have been there.—Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

  • Steve Lacy (Soprano Sax)
  • Mal Waldron (Piano)
  • Peter Pfister (Mastering)
  • Peter Pfister (Mixing)
  • Pia Uehlinger (Producer)
  • Werner X. Uehlinger (Producer)
  • Jean-Marc Foussat (Engineer)
Track List:
  1. Let's Call This (Waldron)
  2. Round Midnight (Monk)
  3. No Baby (Lacy)
  4. Herbe de l'Oubli (Lacy)
  5. Snake Out (Waldron)
  6. Round Midnight (Monk)
  7. Deep Endeavors (Waldron)
  8. A Case of Plus 's (Waldron)
  9. The Seagulls of Kristiansund (Waldron)
  10. Snake Out (Waldon)
Download Link: Enjoy the Music!, or Here.

Other Recordings by Steve Lacy & Mel Waldron:

1 comment:

  1. Mahalo nui loa, Calox! Might you post track 5, the first Snake Out? I dig your site - nice to see Poulenc and Lacy so cozy.