Searching in Grenoble, a Mal Waldron concert from the late-1970s, is to see an official release for the first time this autumn

A must for Mal Waldron fans. It's not by any means glossy sound - how could it be: and do we really need glossy sound anyway? - the piano sounds far from ideal but both factors pale into the background given the humane work in progress warts and …

Published: 21 Aug 2022. Updated: 5 months.

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A must for Mal Waldron fans.

It's not by any means glossy sound - how could it be: and do we really need glossy sound anyway? - the piano sounds far from ideal but both factors pale into the background given the humane work in progress warts and all factors here all factored in as Mal Waldron live plays his masterpiece 'Soul Eyes' unrolled in straight-to-the-heart detail on an album based on a André Francís produced Radio France recording to receive its first official non-bootleg release this autumn.

'Soul Eyes' in recent years has been introduced memorably to a new generation in a vocals and piano version by the very fine singer-pianist Kandace Springs.

A solo piano recording which also includes within its 2-CD capacity the former Billie Holiday pianist's treatment of 'Here, There and Everywhere,' 'It Could Happen To You' and his own 'Fire Waltz' among other pieces - these were all recorded in front of an enthusiastic sounding audience in the south-eastern French city of Grenoble in March 1978.

Waldron's 'Snake Out' here also on this heavily annotated Zev Feldman archival-produced Tompkins Square label release featured on 1979's Enja release Mingus Lives and had been introduced to the Waldron canon released in 1974 on trio recording Up Popped the Devil.

Mal Waldron was famously the first artist to lead a recording for ECM, Free at Last (1969). Sadly the last to survive from the Waldron Free at Last trio, Clarence Becton, passed away just this summer in Holland. The Mal Waldron photo top is a detail from the cover artwork

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Barre Phillips and György Kürtág, Face à Face, ECM ***

Hearing all of this in a complete listen now after marvelling at 'Chosen Spindle' which was the first track made available from the album - and actually lands half way - it is striking how episodic and yet so abstract the whole framing and aural …

Published: 21 Aug 2022. Updated: 5 months.

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Hearing all of this in a complete listen now after marvelling at 'Chosen Spindle' which was the first track made available from the album - and actually lands half way - it is striking how episodic and yet so abstract the whole framing and aural imagery within are. You may grumpily argue that not a lot happens on 'The Under Zone' and you'd be right. But it ushers in a whole sea floor of a world that Jacques Cousteau himself would have been fascinated to discover on 'Two By Two'. The album has a pre-human phytoplankton-like mystery to it.

The improviser bassist Barre Phillips knows about making the listener wait. And with composer, electronicist, synthist György Kürtág Jr exacting in a similar desire as close confidant and to some extent muse it is ridiculous to file this inspirational album under any one genre.

It is absurd in a way to see it as a Jazz album or any genre with an initial letter capped up and yet jazz listeners above all may get something out of the recording most particularly if attuned to anything verging on the classical avant-garde or even new age music if grappling for bedfellows to flesh out a wider communion to its panorama of reach.

The sonic wobble of Kürtág's response on 'Extended Circumstances' to the stark Phillips lines is one highlight with its cicada of a pulse emerging as if from nowhere.

If you decide to view the album as a soundscape - and yet it's not, even if it comes close at times - the terrain might shift restlessly to pan from desert to sea to soft-focus back again.

Two against nature? No, two very much inhabitants of a planet in danger. We may not hear a stronger ecological statement from anyone this year not that it probably set out to be anything directly of the kind in the first place. Fascinating sounds.