Mar 6, 2007

birdland and cedar walton

The wife and daughter were out of town last weekend and I decided to make a solo run to Birdland, one of the premier jazz clubs in New York. Piano player Cedar Walton was playing. Not an easily recognizable name in jazz but he has played with most of the old timers like Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Kenney Dorham, and Art Blakey. He even recorded on Coltrane's Giant Steps album. Definitely someone to catch now as all these legends are either dead or on their last legs.

They played a nice set. I'm not a huge piano fan because the amount of 'attack' it can deliver is limited compared to a drum or horn. It's decibel range is narrow. But Walton did something interesting things. He's quite clever. The stand out player ironically was not Cedar Walton though but his drummer, Joe Farnsworth, who not only looked like an accountant but dressed like one too. A wolf in sheep's clothing this guy was.

The club itself was also of interest to me. Birdland is obviously named after Charlie "Bird" Parker. But in reality the myth of Birdland is sort of dead. The original club, which started in 1949 with Parker headlining shows is no more, closing in 1965. The current version of the club, while accommodating and intimate is something of a touristy affair. The food and drinks are good, the acoustics excellent, but it lacks any character. I enjoyed the show but I was hoping for something more memorable. I will go back for the right band though.

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