Mal Waldron

My Dear Family

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This date is notable for the pairing of pianist Mal Waldron and smooth jazz reedman Grover Washington, Jr.. Washington was always over-qualified to play his particular brand of instrumental pop, and it is a joy to hear him stretch out a bit on this straight-ahead session. His supple tone mixes well with trumpeter Eddie Henderson and both musicians take full harmonic advantage of performing with the moody and expansive Waldron. The only disappointment here is the overall somber quality of the selections. Despite an inspired version of "Footprints" and an unexpected choice in the funky "Jean Pierre" -- off Miles Davis' 1981 We Want Miles -- the album lags. "Left Alone" features Washington's trademark soprano sax sound and is a pretty ballad, but is followed up with the mid-tempo "Sassy" negating the prior tune's impact. Waldron could have earned more kudos with his inclusion of the Japanese traditional song "Sakura Sakura" -- an interesting foray into world jazz -- if he had only bookended it with some bright up-tempo numbers. Still, this is a superbly performed album by stellar, world-class musicans and should please most hardcore jazz fans.

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