Myron Walden

Higher Ground

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Alto saxophonist Myron Walden's fourth CD as a leader features a high-spirited young quartet, with Marcus Strickland on tenor sax, Brandon Owens on bass, and E.J. Strickland on drums. Once again, Walden showcases original material, seven tunes in all. With no chordal instrument, the predominant sound is that of the leader's raw, passionate alto and Strickland's husky tenor meshing on well-crafted harmonies and ferocious solo exchanges, buoyed by a strong rhythm section that also gets its share of solo space. The extended sax duel on "Slow and Steady" and the simultaneous forays on "When Time Stood Still" (both brooding grooves in three) are among the highlights. "Solid" kicks the album off with deep, in-the-pocket swing; in a particularly alert solo entrance, Walden quotes Strickland's final idea verbatim and takes it onward and upward. The tempo picks up on "Page One" and "Higher Ground," loosely based on Coltrane's "Mr. Day" and the standard "You Stepped Out of a Dream," respectively. Walden stretches to his limits on the slow, heavy blues "You Dig," and closes with the dramatic rubato of "High Above the Clouds." An especially gritty offering from one of jazz's most powerful young alto players.

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