In 2005, the HighNote label brought out Underground Memoirs, a nearly 54-minute solo album by modern mainstream jazz pianist Cedar Walton. Although it wasn't without precedent, Walton certainly didn't make a lot of solo recordings after the age of 60. Looking back through his primary discography, in fact, the closest thing to an immediate predecessor for Underground Memoirs is an unaccompanied piano album from 1992 issued as Vol. 25 in the Concord Jazz label's Live at Maybeck Recital Hall Series. Walton was just a few days short of his 71st birthday when he recorded Underground Memoirs at The Studio in New York City on January 11, 2005. A lifetime of practical and genre-defining experience in the mainstreams of modern jazz enabled the pianist to engage on a personal level with standards and ballads that clearly held significance for him. For those who listen with open hearts, the album becomes a confluence of composers and interpreters who include Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. The title track, composed by Walton, may be sending the message that this great set of musical traditions -- even those which yield music that is deemed accessible and readily acceptable -- have always existed in a sort of underground where the public seems only to venture from time to time. The man who played piano with Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman certainly carried a wealth of experiences on which to reflect. His Underground Memoirs are recommended for restful contemplation, intimate dining, and relaxed conversation among friends.
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