19 September 2011


I was excited to see that Cedar Walton was in town while we were there, playing a four night stand with his trio at the Jazz Showcase. The Jazz Showcase is another of those fabulous venues with posters for the greats over many years back to the early ‘50s, although it’s now in a new location. The current location is big and dark with a big stage, a Steinway, and a decent PA, so very presentable, although I didn’t manage to break through the jazz-cool here.

Cedar was a frequent pianist in records I heard in the ‘70s so a must see and he was just as I expected. Heavily bluesy, hard swinging, but with an easy dissonance that none-the-less remains in the main stream. This was sturdy and solid but easily expressive playing, with an intriguing selection of standards and presumably originals and with clever arrangements. Either they are well rehearsed or frequently gigged, but this band played taut arrangements, hits, starts, stops, dynamics with relaxed ease and ever-present energy and hard swing. The audience was small and I felt the first set was the better with the bigger attendance. They played two medleys, by Billy Strayhorn and Monk, a string of originals, Stevie Wonder and JJ Johnson’s beautiful Lament. Luscious ballads, frequent changes from 2 to four to latins to walks, and lots of sharp soloing, including from east coast bassist David Williams and Chicago drummer George Fludas. A very enjoyable night of capable hard swing and nifty arranging. Cedar Walton (piano) played with David Williams (bass) and George Fludas (drums) at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago.

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