This time is an extra edition of the Keyboard Mad Drifting Record series, which ended with Yamaha's CS-80 polyphonic synthesizer. This time, I would like to introduce masterpieces from foreign musicians I have interviewed so far, and talk about the episodes with the musicians who left an impression on me. First is the master of jazz piano, Mal Waldron (honorific title omitted).
"A concert in the local city by the master of jazz piano, Mal Waldron!”
Mal Waldron is a jazz pianist from New York. He made a name for himself for his accompaniment for Billie Holiday. He has performed with other famous musicians including Charles Mingus. Left Alone, a collaboration with Billy, is known as Waldron's masterpiece.
Waldron's story began by accident. When I was working in the press, Waldron performed with a local musician and give a concert. When I applied to cover to the musician who he was playing with, I was kindly accepted, and Waldron also gave me an OK and it became possible to cover them both. However, a jazz piano master coming to the local town is insufficient as far as the news is concerned. I wanted a theme, so I talked to the musicians he was going to play with.
■ Recommended album: Left Alone (1959)
Is Waldron a ninja? …What do you mean?! '
The bassist says, "I hear that Waldron is a ninja! He never reveals his identity. We want to reveal his identity." The story sounds interesting, I thought. Improvisation in jazz is the very identity of the musician. The real thrill of jazz is that you listen to the sounds of the band and the sounds as each player reacts to become one. So what does it mean to be a ninja without exposing yourself, I wondered.
On the day of the interview, I greeted Waldron before the rehearsal. I was surprised by the size and softness of his hand when we shook hands. Waldron was a gentleman who was quiet and kind.
Waldron’s sound was white.
When the concert began, what surprised me was Waldron’s "sound". The sound coming out of Waldron's piano was not that of a Afro-American man. The songs sung by Afro-American vocalists are more tenacious than whites. Speaking of being sneaky, the words are bad, but there is a peculiar Afro-American man's sound that white people do not have. The peculiar tunes of Afro-Americans can be said not only for vocals but also for musical instruments, and the same for guitars and pianos. Compare the piano of the white pianist Bill Evans with the piano of the Afro-American pianist Sonny Clark. You should be able to understand what I mean immediately. However, the Afro-American pianist Waldron's piano play was very refreshing and it sounded like a white man playing. I fell in love with the beautiful tone. Waldron left America and he had been playing in Europe for so long that I was wondering if he had faded.
"Is Waldron really a ninja?”
Looking at the Japanese musicians who were playing with Waldron from the sleeves, they are playing really happily. In my mind, I wanted to confirm the basis of the Waldron Ninja theory, "Are they really sure if he is a ninja?"Waldron himself seemed to enjoy playing, and it didn't feel like he was hiding anything in particular.
Interview with co-starring musicians
The concert ended with Waldron's masterpiece, Left Alone. I asked the Japanese musicians who came off the stage what they thought. The bassist, who said Waldron was a ninja, flushed his face and responded to my camera.
“Waldron was warm. I felt wrapped up. I had thought he was inaccessible, but that wasn’t the case.”
That was the first response. I still remember his face clearly. The sense of fulfillment in sharing music came from the interview.Was Waldron a ninja? I asked, but I didn’t get a clear answer.
“I was deeply fond of him! He accepted whatever we did,”
he told me.
Did I myself cut into the insides of Waldron? I wondered, but it was unreasonable to ask the co-stars about that. Instead, I thought that I should applaud those who confronted the giant of Jazz.
Interview with Waldron: “Ninja?”
I also interviewed Waldron after the other musicians.
“Many people say that you are a“ ninja”; what do you think about that…?”
“I enjoyed playing with the Japanese musicians.”
Waldron’s answer was general. Maybe Waldron really felt that. I didn't get the answer I expected regarding the story of the ninja, perhaps because Waldron didn't understand what I meant (I've heard that repeatedly ...).
“Why is Waldron a ninja?”
The "Ninja" has a kind of negative image such as not revealing his identity, not being able to see his identity, and stealth. Jazz is music that is mainly improvisation (ad lib). You need to have a spontaneous sense of listening to and reacting to your own image and the sound sequence from the performer of the moment. This is how I imagine it, but Waldron was described as a "ninja" because he could give a variety of answers to the phrases that came out of the other players and could give out phrases that exceeded the imagination of the co-starring partners. The meaning of "ninja" is "variety", "beyond imagination", "unchangeable", and so on. Waldron was not hiding his identity; he was always revealing his identity...
Musicians and albums featured this time
- Artist: Mal Waldron
- Album: "Left Alone" / Mal Waldron