The Mal Waldron Trio
Recorded and released in 1959 just after Mal arrived back in the US from a tour of Europe accompanying Lady Day, Impressions includes his three-part Overseas Suite. “Champs Elysses” is the opener – “It was the widest avenue I had ever seen. I tried to get the feeling that I had while walking down it. Among other things I was reminded of Gershwin’s American in Paris.” While I’m sure Mal had a spring in his step, he doesn’t ever strike me as being capable Gershwin’s flamboyant bounce.
As a colorist, Waldron seems more akin to Rembrandt than Matisse, at least to me. I guess that’s what people mean when they describe his music as “brooding”. The remaining “Suite” songs, “Ciao!” and “C’est Formidable” are spread out on the record (my only complaint/question), interspersed with a track penned by Mal’s wife Elaine “All About Us” (“The Us in ‘All ABout Us’ is Mal, Elaine and their children. The song expresses the feeling they have together” at least that’s what Ira Gitler tells us in his liner notes), and three cover tunes, “You Stepped Out of a Dream” (Nacio Herb Brown, Gus Kahn), “All the Way” (Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen), and “With a Song in My Heart” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers).
More from Ira Gilter’s liner notes:
Mal remembers “With A Song In My Heart”, played at a slow tempo, from his childhood. As a result, it sounds ‘old’ to him. Another version, recorded by Sonny Rollins for Prestige in 1951, helped sustain him when he was playing in a sad r&b group [so sad, they didn't even capitalize 'r&b'] on the road in the early Fifties. “Whenever I’d get back to the hotel I’d put Sonny’s record on and it would give me a lift and renew my hope that I wold be playing good music some day.”
Thankfully, some day came sooner than later for Mal and for us and let’s not forget to emphasize – listening to records can also give us hope. The rest of the trio consists of Addison Farmer on bass and Albert “Tootie” Heath on drums and they play as one. Another highly polished soulful gem from the Mal Waldron songbook.