Facts that follow, straight on through to center stage
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Whenever Mal Waldron got on stage with first class musicians, the same thing happened almost always: he progressed to assume absolute spiritual authority, whether or not he was the band leader.
Mal Waldron was one of the chosen few of the late Bebop generation, who got their final polish from the musical chalybeate bath in the Prestige kitchen of the late fifties and thereby acquired the ability to carry the spirit of modern jazz through the second half of the twentieth century. Let the names of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy be named as examples, travelling companions of those days, who lined his artistic pathways. He got a lot about jazz vocalisation and phrasing from Billie Holiday, which decisively influenced the development of his sound. Not only as a pianist, but also his efficacy as bandleader was affected by this.
What came out of it was the magic that surrounded him on stage, that has been acknowledged in the liner notes to the present album From Dark Into the Light as the ‘Three Facts to Centre Stage’. Ed Schuller once said at the time “… Going on stage with Mal – and also altogether, being on tour with him - is like going on a voyage; and you never know where you’re going to or where you’ll arrive. He’s the scout and we can all trust him blindly. He makes things come out of me that I’d never imagined or thought possible. Yet he hardly ever gives you any instructions – it just kind of happens on stage!” Mal considered jazz a mirror of life, of his life – and this perception was the basis of his musical playbill: an improvised time journey to the centre of the human soul. Ed Schuller – who worked for over ten years with Mal Waldron, has tried to express this feeling in his composition Mal-Factor. He was also the bass player in this last illustrious quartet under the leadership of Mal Waldron, following in the wake of the legendary Mal-Waldron-Jim Pepper line-up. Not only does Ed Schuller come out of the ‘Dark into the Light’; but also the great Nicolas Simion, with that unmistakeable influence of his Transylvanian horn sound on the tenor saxophone; as also that well-versed, incredibly versatile star on drums Victor Jones; they all succumb to the magic of these moments, thus emerging to acquire great and brilliant radiance.