Music Reviews
Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy

Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy

The Mighty Warriors: Live in Antwerp

Elemental Music

Mal Waldron and Steve Lacy are well respected jazz innovators. They are closely linked to the free jazz movement, although both men were movers and shakers in the post-bop world and both had a devotion to the music of Thelonious Monk, The “Jazz Detective,” Zev Feldman, has unearthed this two-disc set from a 1995 concert at De Singel International Arts Center in Antwerp, Belgium. It features an excellent quartet of Waldron on piano, Lacy on soprano sax, Reggie Workman on bass, and Andrew Cyrille on drums.

The set opens on disc one with the Waldron composition “What It Is.” The 17-minute piece is anchored by Waldron’s mesmerizing piano. Lacy’s soprano goes on sonic excursions while the rhythm section holds everything together. Steve Lacy’s composition “Longing” is another extended workout. Lacy takes his time developing his themes which range from somber to exhilarating. Tracks 2 and 4 are Monk compositions, “Epistrophy” and “Monk’s Mood.” These tunes help keep side one tied down to the searching but melodic end of the jazz spectrum. Both Waldron and Lacy show their love of the originals with these interpretations of Monk classics.

Disc two highlights the more experimental, free-leaning side of the players. The song titles clue you in that this isn’t going to be business as usual. The side opens with the 25-minute long “Variations on III.” The piece opens with a low lonely passage from Workman on bass, before expanding into an exploration of sounds with all of the players getting their moment to stand out. The second track is an equally long “Medley: Snake Out/Variations on a Theme by Cecil Taylor.” The piece opens with Waldron aggressively working the keys, before Lacy joins in to move the piece toward a blocky melodic run. Both Workman and Cyrille get extended solos on this piece.

The Mighty Warriors is a worthy addition to Waldron and Lacy’s catalog. The playing is loose and playful. The first disc shows off the quartet’s more melodic inclinations, while disc two cuts loose and lets their free jazz proclivities have room to play.

The album is out April 26 from Elemental Records. Preorder from Bandcamp.


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