Personnel: Cedar Walton (piano).
Bassist Ron Carter and pianist Cedar Walton both became active on the New York jazz scene around 1960. Walton was soon to gain popularity working with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers; meanwhile, Carter would become an important anchor in what is arguably Miles Davis' most influential ensemble. In 1981, Timeless Records documented the great rapport between these two giants of post-bop jazz. Heart & Soul is certainly not a loose "blowing session"; it's clear that the duo's repertoire had carefully developed during a year of gigging together in Manhattan. At the same time, the music never feels overarranged and stiff; there is always room for spontaneity. The piano and bass duo is a challenging setting, and there are relatively few successful recordings in the jazz literature. (Duke Ellington and Jimmy Blanton's historic 1940 session set the tone for years to come.) In the more common trio format, the drummer serves to reinforce the time feel and dynamic variation; Carter and Walton have eliminated the need for a third member by generating enough momentum and contrast through their almost telepathic interaction. It is this interplay which is the key to the recording's success, as Heart & Soul always feels like a true collaboration. Both players are quite capable of either carrying the lead or providing supportive accompaniment and they strike a real balance in their interpretations of four standards and four original tunes including John Lewis' "Django" and the1937 Rodgers & Hart classic, "My Funny Valentine." There's no need for Carter to solo over his minor key "Little Waltz" since his accompaniment is so varied. Walton's bluesy "Back to Bologna" is a medium-tempo swinger with unexpected rhythmic breaks. Recommended listening. ~ Lee Bloom