JazzTimes (p.72) - "'Dear Ruth' is the record's climax -- a Blakey-esque raver featuring bass runs by Buster Williams in which plucked notes and their echoes engage in dialogue..."
Personnel: Cedar Walton (piano); Willie Jones III (drums).
Audio Mixer: Rudy Van Gelder.
Liner Note Author: Doug Ramsey.
Recording information: 05/20/2009.
Photographer: R. Andrew Lepley.
Cedar Walton continues to produce consistently good mainstream jazz recordings, approaching a sum total of 50. This effort revisits previous original compositions or tackles some hard bop and standards, while alternating between trio and quartet formats. Tenor saxophonist Vincent Herring's dry, flatted style is heard on half of the material, illuminating his increased desire to find a distinctive voice away from his more recognizable alto sax. Veteran bassist Buster Williams is clearly someone Walton enjoys working with regularly, while drummer Willie Jones III is more than capable of driving the pianist's swinging machine on a straight-ahead path. There's nothing complicated or groundbreaking about this music, but it is solid, substantive, and always enjoyable whether on the first or the hundredth hearing. Three classic themes of Walton's reappear in slightly rearranged form; the spirited "Voices Deep Within," which is one of Walton's more affirmed and memorable melodies, the easy, lyrical post-bop piece "Something in Common," with a hefty bass solo from Williams, and one for his deceased mother, "Dear Ruth," lightly rendered, modified in pacing from the original version, and a perfect musical tribute to her long life (97 years old before passing in 2002). John Coltrane's "Naima" is also changed, out of a slow ballad and into an cozy, steady pace, still lovely as ever. A modal calypso version of Stevie Wonders' "Another Star" is completely different than his previous commercial fusion rendering, with some Asian touches, while Walton takes the vintage Eubie Blake evergreen "Memories of You" in a trio setting with a more swinging, less parlor-y approach. More in the pocket is the spiky Sonny Rollins off-minor theme "No Moe," a sneaky tune that allows a more playful Walton to skulk in hunched over style. One piece features Walton primarily as a solo artist, as his version of "Over the Rainbow" has him waxing rhapsodically on a redo of the Bud Powell solo treatment for the Wizard of Oz main theme before the rhythm section quietly enters. Walton always has something beautiful to play that sets him apart from the rest, and is as good as a ton of bullion in his golden, productive years. ~ Michael G. Nastos