Mal Waldron

Hard Talk

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This stimulating session (reissued on CD by Enja) features the masterful avant-garde cornetist Manfred Schoof (whose surprising jumps into the upper-register recall Kenny Wheeler), Steve Lacy on soprano, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Isla Eckinger, and drummer Allen Blairman. They explore four of Waldron's advanced pieces, and it is interesting to hear how Lacy's playing a couple decades ago (with its piercing high notes and very abstract combination of notes) differs from his present-day lyrical approach. Waldron's percussive style is a logical progression from his hard bop playing of the 1950s, and the rhythm section is both alert and tight on these three romps and the ballad "Russian Melody." This is a strong live set that successfully combines together some distinctive musical personalities; Schoof often steals solo honors.

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