Jazz CD Reviews

Cedar Walton – Voices Deep Within – High Note

Cedar Walton- a master of his craft.

Published on October 18, 2009

Cedar Walton – Voices Deep Within – High Note

Cedar Walton – Voices Deep Within – High Note HCD 7204, 56:40 ****:

(Cedar Walton, piano; Vincent Herring, tenor sax (on #1, 3, 5, & 8); Buster Williams, bass; Willie Jones III, drums)

For Cedar Walton’s sixth recording for High Note Records, Voices Deep Within, he has the services of bassist Buster Williams, who can handle any kind of jazz style, whether it be straight ahead or pushing the avant garde envelope. Rising star, Vincent Herring, plays tenor on half of eight selections, and drummer Willie Jones III has a background that includes tutelage by the late great Billy Higgins, as well stints with Milt Jackson, Arturo Sandoval, and Roy Hargrove. Known as a modest man, Cedar Walton, has played for nearly fifty years and recorded over forty albums as a leader. On the liner notes for this CD, Cedar states, “This is a good album.”

With this caliber of band, and Rudy Van Gelder on board handling recording, mixing, and mastering duties; combining three Walton compositions with others by the likes of Eubie Blake, Harold Arlen, John Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins, I’d have to concur on Walton’s assessment.

The title track opens the CD with Vincent Herring and Cedar playing in 4/4. Herring provides a good partner for Walton, knowing that he has to be on his toes with this quartet. Memories of You, written by Eubie Blake (who may have set the longevity record in jazz, living to be 100, and playing through his 98th birthday!) is a chestnut that Walton handles gently with Buster Williams’ having his usual rock solid solo.

Another Star, from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, is given a jazz visit and Herring blows several soulful choruses as Walton’s sparkling arrangement unfolds. Dear Ruth, written by Cedar for his mother, who passed away in 2002 at age 97, is one of Walton’s most recognized compositions and is rearranged from a previously recorded version. I liked drummer Jones’ accompaniment here.

Something in Common
is another Walton staple going back to 1974. Williams’ solo sets the stage for Walton’s comping, and Herrings’ solo has a Coltrane feel to it. Speaking of Coltrane, Walton includes Naima, for which Cedar played piano for Trane’s 1959 Atlantic recording.

Done right, I never get tired of hearing Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow. Per Doug Ramsey’s liner notes, Walton bases his version on Bud Powell’s 1951 Blue Note solo rendition. Walton mixes bop with the more standard Arlen version, and the result is well done, especially with the backing of Williams and Jones.

Based on the rhythm changes of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, Sonny Rollins’ No Moe, is the longest track on this CD. You can get Sonny’s vibe from Herring’s playing and Walton is fully in command during his section with a virtuosic full keyboard workout.  Appropriately enough, the cover of the CD booklet shows Cedar with his arms crossed over a grand Steinway piano. Voices Deep Within were soon to follow.

TrackList: Voices Deep Within, Memories of You, Another Star, Dear Ruth, Something in Common, Over the Rainbow, Naima, No Moe

– Jeff Krow

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