Saturday, April 11, 2009

Passion & Communication: Mal Waldron & Marion Brown

I remember a sunny afternoon in Southern California when I was listening to Beethoven's Violin Concerto. The soloist played a line and then shifted down the scale and played it again. The first line was light hearted. The second was deadly serious and cut into the muscle. It occurred to me that this was real communication. Ludwig Von Beethoven, who was dead a long time, was sharing a bit of his soul with me. I have noticed that same device, turning the comic into tragic, in the Celtic music of Altan. There is no possibility of coincidence here. What is going on in the composer's soul is reproduced in the soul of the listener. Music is proof that we are not alone.

All this was brought on by listening tonight to Songs of Love and Regret, a duet album by Mal Waldron and Marion Brown. The title alone is a touch of genius. It reminds me of Tales of Mystrey and Imagination, by Edgar Allan Poe. The "love and regret" zero in on a target: a realm of the soul that we all dwell in at some moment in our lives.

Marion Brown played the Alto Sax. He plays on Trane's Ascension, God help him. But Songs of Love and Regret is one of those jewels that lies there waiting for the genuine ear to find it. Waldron had a penetrating intellect and a deep heart. He recorded a lot of duets in his later years. Jazz duets are works of love. They rarely get much market share. Most of the audience needs the rhythm section to keep 'em afloat. To appreciate the duet, you have to pay attention. But if you do, you get two souls for the price of one.

Here are a couple of tracks from the disc. If you like them, hunt it down. Everything on the disc is worth whatever you have to pay.

Mal Waldron and Marion Brown/To the Golden Lady in her Grahm Cracker Window/Songs of Love and Regret
Mal Waldron and Marion Brown/Contemplation/Songs of Love and Regret


  1. I recommend listening to this in the warm spring air. Then again, after the melodies have merged with your neuro-pathways, on a cold, rainy night. Catch it in different weather, different moods. Agreed, the deepening shift you've mentioned in the violinist playing Beethoven is here.

  2. Thanks Anon! You have caught the light off the rain soaked pavement just as I have. Please make more comments like this. I very much agree that this music is like fine wine, it is a different quadrant of space and time depending on the main course.

  3. I'm going to work on it...I'll see if I can come up with something... This is really fun.

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