Soul Cycle, recorded in 1969, is pianist/composer Cedar Walton's attempt to "groove those who are already tuned in, while picking up some entirely new ears along the way." In his candid liner notes, he describes a major concern for jazz musicians at that time: How to be commercial without selling out. The electric instruments featured here are a nod to the times, but sound innocent compared to Miles Davis' contemporaneous Bitches Brew.
The opening "Sundown Express" sounds almost like an urban TV show theme, but James Moody's tentative, edgy sax solo sustains the suspense. The mellow, inoffensive, Latin-tinged "Quiet Dawn" also sounds influenced by television, while Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" finds us in the compromising place Walton describes in his liner notes. But on "Pensativa," "Easy Walker," and "I Should Care," Walton returns to the acoustic piano, and the band sounds more relaxed. An interesting effort that reflects its times, Soul Cycle confirms that Walton's playing is most authoritative in a blues/bop landscape.