Cedar Walton – Reliving the Moment (Live at the Keystone Korner, 1977) – HighNote HCD7265, 65:44 ***½:
(Cedar Walton – piano; Bob Berg – tenor saxophone – David Williams – bass; Billy Higgins -drums; with special guest, Freddie Hubbard – trumpet and flugelhorn on tracks No. 3, 5, 7)
Keystone Korner was a small gem of a jazz club in San Francisco. It was open from 1972-1983. Run as a labor of love by jazz impresario Todd Barkan, it put the music ahead of all else. It often had financial problems but Barkan persevered in bringing some dream line-ups to his intimate (read: cramped) club. Todd brought Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, and McCoy Tyner for week-long gigs.
HighNote has unearthed a previously unreleased grouping of a Cedar Walton Quartet (with special guest Freddie Hubbard) from New Year’s Eve week of 1977. Bob Berg was the tenor sax player with Walton at the time and he brought a Coltrane influence to the quartet. Billy Higgins propelled the group to some very high energy “bright moments” (a favorite phrase of Barkan’s).
I found Freddie Hubbard’s blowing to be a bit ragged on the three tracks he joins, with “Byrdlike” having the most cohesion. Berg is an adept foil for Freddie on “Ugetsu” and has a strong feature on “Jacob’s Ladder.” Bob shows his tender side on the standard “For All We Know.” Tragically we lost Bob in an auto accident at age 51 back in December 2002.
The one constant throughout the fireworks found on Reliving the Moment is the sparkling piano of Walton. I found I enjoyed the times the front line horns lay back and let Cedar do his thing. Including a piano trio track from the four-night stay would have been a plus.
It was a sad loss for jazz in the City by the Bay when the Keystone closed its doors. With the exception of Yoshi’s, the Bay Area still does not have any other jazz clubs to even remotely compete with those in Chicago or New York.
TrackList: Opening Remarks, Midnight Waltz, Ugetsu, For All We Know, Byrdlike, Jacob’s Ladder, Impressions
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