Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy – The Mighty Warriors Live In Antwerp – Elemental Music

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy – The Mighty Warriors Live In Antwerp – Elemental Music 5990546 [4/20/2024] Record Store Day Deluxe Limited Edition 180-gram stereo double vinyl + 15-page full-sized booklet, 97:20 ****1/2:

(Mal Waldron – piano; Steve Lacy – soprano saxophone; Reggie Workman – double bass; Andrew Cyrille – drums)

Elemental Music and producer/archivist Zev Feldman have uncovered another previously unreleased live jazz recording. Mal Waldron & Steve LacyThe Mighty Warriors Live In Antwerp will be available for 2024 Record Store Day as a limited edition 180-gram double vinyl (it will also be available on CD and digital download later). Joining Waldron and Lacy are Reggie Workman (double bass) and Andrew Cyrille (drums). `The concert was recorded at De Singel Arts Center (Antwerp Belgium) in 1995. Thanks to the original audio tapes by Patrick Willen and sound mixing and re-mastering by Marc Doutrepont (EQuus), this 96-minute performance has been restored for posterity.

Waldron and Lacy (both expatriated to Europe) are renowned for free jazz explorations, and  have an affinity for changing moods. Side A kicks off with lengthy, complex jam of a Waldron original (“What It Is”). The pianist opens with a lower register “loose’ feel that shifts to medium swing. As the quartet joins in, there is a unique time signature. Lacy solos on soprano saxophone with a light touch. His tonality starts off smooth, but he eventually pushes the boundaries. Workman’s skipping double bass sustains the beat. Waldron’s solo has both chording and right hand notation with soulful accents. Both Workman and Cyrille offer dramatic solos. The next tune is a Monk standard (“Epistrophy”). It kicks off with an unorthodox variation of a 3/4 time signature. Then it transitions to medium swing showcasing Lacy’s  nimble, exquisite play. Waldron’s cool finger-snapping run is minimalist, but with mood, delicate shading and chord modulation. Side B opens with a Lacy composition, “Longing”. He and Waldron combine on a unison repetitive vamp. As Waldron and the rhythm section maintain the pulse, Lacy veers off on a freewheeling, abstract soprano run. His play is deliberate and exotic with some jagged tones at the end. Waldron initiates an equally complex and asymmetrical solo with unique phrasing and timing. There are melodic shadings, but the overall tension never abates. Workman adds another deft solo. Lacy and Waldron unite on a haunting, muscular counterpoint before reprising the first verse. “Monk’s Dream” feels more like blues-infused jazz with jaunty tempo and playful swing execution. Waldron’s solo is fluid and graceful. Cyrille provides another impressive display of rhythm and creative flair.

Side C takes a distinctive turn to experimental, avant-garde exploration on Reggie Workman’s “Variation Of III”. His initial double bass (bowed and standard) has a stream-of-consciousness vibe, until an uptick in tempo. The overall jam is still “loose” as Waldron offers a dancing, halting piano. Cyrille’s delicate percussion is impressive and he duets fluidly with Lacy’s ethereal, multi-toned notation (which sounds flute-like). There are interludes that present an ominous resonance. The instrumentalists are playing as much individually as in quartet mode. Workman and Waldron exchange viscerally with ascending and descending articulation. Then, there is a surprising turn to bop as soulful piano, double bass and drums are in the pocket. Waldron’s solo is unusual with atonal accents. The final side consists of a Mal Waldron medley (“Snake Out”/“Variations On A Theme By Cecil Taylor”). The pianist executes a very bluesy intro before a call and response with the rhythm section. Lacy rejoins with a sinewy, extemporaneous delivery. Workman has another complex solo with finger-snapping cool, and Cyrille again is exemplary on a widely textured solo. The second part of the medley is predominately a tour-de-force performance by Waldron. He infuses classical motifs with sweeping jazz brilliance. It is a fitting end to a trend-setting concert.

This is another great release from Elemental Records. The restored sound is very good with great attention to detail and stereo separation. In the booklet, there are testimonials from Workman and Cyrille. The pressing (The Mastering Lab) is top-notch with limited crowd noise, and no hisses or pops.

Highly recommended!

—Robbie Gerson

Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy – The Mighty Warriors Live In Antwerp

Side A: What It Is; Epistrophy
Side B: Longing; Monk’s Dream
Side C: Variation Of III
Side D: Medley: Snake Out/ Variations On A Theme By Cecil Taylor.

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Album Cover for Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy - The Mighty Warriors Live In Antwerp

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