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July/August 2005

Cedar Walton
Underground Memories
HighNote Records

On Underground Memoirs, his third solo-piano recording, Cedar Walton interprets only one of his own estimable compositions, preferring instead to explore popular and jazz standards, few of which have gone neglected over the decades. But if the prospect of hearing yet another version of "Sophisticated Lady" or "Skylark" doesn't get your motor running, the loss would be yours.

For a pianist who established himself as perhaps the ultimate hard-bop utility man, Walton has a decidedly refined approach and pronounced sensitivity to song that illuminates each performance. So we hear again the brilliant construction of Cole Porter's "Everytime We Say Goodbye" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" while simultaneously admiring Walton's graceful interpretive choices and imaginative variations. The curse of being too dependable is being taken for granted; while Walton can always be counted on for excellence, he should also be studied closely. To let the beauty he produces slip away would be a crime.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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