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Cedar Walton: Latin Tinge

Cedar Walton must be regarded as the most accomplished of these pianist leaders. Walton has performed on hundreds of records and written many tunes that entered the standard repertoire or should enter it. There is no shortage of currently available recordings by this master, but Latin Tinge (High Note) provides us with something very different from him. There is more than a tinge of Latin music here; the title could have justifiably been Latin Immersion. The emphasis of the trio is on adhering to proper Latin rhythmic arrangements. Walton’s playing is therefore not as florid as we are used to getting from him; he seems to be more concerned with locking in with the rhythm section than in flying above it.

The program consists of three of the less familiar Walton originals and the Latin standards “Brazil,” “Besame Mucho,” “Tres Palabras,” “Perfidia,” “Serenata” and Jobim’s “Triste.” The musicians establish a different Latin motif for each tune, which is maintained throughout. Bassist Chucho Martinez receives one brief solo and otherwise accepts the role of mostly delineating the chord by sticking to the root and fifth of each and generally maintaining repeated rhythm figures, but he always does so with big sound and proper feel. Veteran percussionist Ray Mantilla gets more leeway and uses it and the varying instruments in his percussion arsenal with excellent results; the record probably benefits from the absence of traps.

Originally Published