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Mal Waldron - Suicide Is Painless

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Published on Oct 18, 2011

Track 2 From The 1987 "Breaking New Ground" Album

Malcolm Earl Waldron (August 16, 1925 - December 2, 2002) was an American jazz and world music pianist and composer , born in New York City . Like his Contemporaries, Waldron's roots lie chiefly in the hard bop and post- bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s, but with time, he gravitated more Towards free jazz and composition. He is known for his dissonant chord voicings and playing Distinctive style, which was originally inspired by Thelonious Monk .

A Short Biography

After Obtaining a BA in music from Queen's College, New York , he worked in New York City in the early 1950s with Ike Quebec , "Big Nick" Nicholas , and rhythm and blues groups. Frequently he worked with Charles Mingus from 1954 to 1956 and was Billie Holiday 's regular accompanist from 1957 until her death in 1959. He also supervised recording sessions for Prestige Records , Which he is provided arrangements and compositions of Which arguably his most famous, "Soul Eyes," became the widely recorded jazz standard . After Holiday's death he chiefly led his own groups.
Had a Waldron Instantly recognizable yet unique playing style. He finessed thick and rich chords in the lower bass register, although sometimes compared to Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk for his dissonant voicing, his emphasis on weight, texture and frequent repetition of a single and simple linear motif as opposed to melodic improvisation and the heavy and melancholic color to his sound. Considered somewhat of an avant-gardist, his solo style - Which often produced more of a wall of sound than a line of melody - was in stark contrast to more traditional and technical players of his time. Waldron became something of an unsung legend for his uncanny ability to play very slow, deep and even disturbing ballads bordering on sorrow, himself while sitting perfectly motionless, stoic and stolid at the piano, his face devoid of all emotion.
Beside performing, he composed for films ( The Cool World , Three Rooms in Manhattan and Sweet Love, Bitter ), theater, and ballet. In 1963 he had a major nervous breakdown, and had to re-learn his skills, apparently by listening to his own records. Waldron's playing style re-Emerged more brooding, stark and percussive, combining bebop and avant-garde melodies, and at times weaving repetitive melodic motifs using just a few notes over a drone-like accompaniment figure.
After working on a film score in Europe he moved there in 1965 initially permanently living in Munich , Germany and in his last years he was based in Brussels , Belgium . He Performed and recorded extensively throughout Europe and Japan in his Decades later, regularly returning to the United States for bookings. His 1969 album, Free At Last, was the first ever release on the ECM label. In 1973, he collaborated with the German avant-rock band Embryo on an album of four somber, laid-back instrumentals titled Rocksession (released on the German label Brain Records Metronome).
Through the 1980s and 1990s he worked in various settings with Steve Lacy , soprano notably in piano-playing duets their own compositions as well as Monk's. After some years of indifferent health, Waldron was diagnosed with cancer in 2002. He continued to perform until his death in December 2002 in Brussels , Belgium .

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