Cedar Walton Trio
Recording Date: March 18, 2005
During his long career, Cedar Walton has been one of hard bop's most lyrical pianists, as demonstrated on this 2005 trio session for the Japanese label Venus. No matter the tempo or approach, it is very easy to find oneself singing along with Walton's infectious melodies, whether it is the driving "Cedar's Blues," the lighthearted "Midnight Waltz," or his bossa nova salute to a great Brazilian composer "Theme for Jobim." That hardly means the remaining tracks are filler, as there isn't a weak selection present. "Dear Ruth" is a coy piece that must be named for someone special in Walton's life, as this work has a playful, yet reserved aura. Walton saves two of his best-known works for last, a intricate take of "Bolivia," followed by the showstopping finale "Ugetsu." Bassist David Williams and drummer Jimmy Cobb provide great support throughout this enjoyable session.
All Music Guide
Every spring, jazz fans in Cleveland can look forward to a stupefying array of festivities revolving around the Tri-C JazzFest, which happens to be America's premier educational jazz festival. Over the years, this has also meant that other jazz-related presentations have had the opportunity to ride the coattails of the festival and such was the case with two sets on a warm April evening at Night Town with the Cedar Walton Trio. I have some marked reservations about bringing in national acts and choosing to back them with a local rhythm section and one couldn't help but wonder how much more fervor might have been generated had Walton brought in the mates from his most recent record, bassist David Williams and drummer Kenny Washington. Still, Cleveland mainstays Dave Morgan and Greg Bandy performed up to their usual high standards throughout the evening and Walton was obviously in good spirits despite his admitted lack of sleep the night before.
In some ways the first set provided an opportunity for this threesome to feel each other out musically. The standards that afforded the framework initially then gave way to some of Walton's original for the late show. "Bolivia" and "Midnight Waltz" quickly reminded that Walton's art is as much about his writing as his piano playing. During "Holy Land," his wry sense of humor raised its head with a quote from "Flight of the Bumblebee." Then, a lengthy jam on a few Thelonious Monk ditties provided conclusion to what was undoubtedly the stronger of the two sets.