Pianist Mal Waldron first ever live album has been released in 1970 on tiny French Futura label. It contains four longish (each - over ten minute long)compositions, recorded in May 1970 at American Cultural Center in Paris. Mal plays in his most comfortable format - trio,two other members are local musicians who will never record with Waldron again. Twenty-four years old bassist Patrice Caratini will play on Kenny Clarke's French-released album " Kenny "To Day"" in 1980 and will collaborate extensively on domestic jazz and world music recordings. Drummer Guy Hayat already played in mid 60s with Bud Powell. Anyway, lesser known Waldron's band members surprisingly fit well for lively live music.
Album opens with Waldron original "Down At The Gill's" - groovy rhythm section openly push Waldron piano ahead, at moments he sounds almost as playing early rock'n'roll theme on piano. Comparing with Waldron other recordings coming from the same time,where he usually plays mid-tempo well balanced repetitive rhythmic beats or slower tuneful songs,muscular "Down At The Gill's" sounds as stadium rock-hit.
Recording engineer Alain Gandolfi (future drummer and co-founder of funky-fusion Cortex band)has been obviously interested in upcoming proto-funk sound: Mal's piano sounds a bit flat but drums and especially double bass sound are very deep,rich and mixed on the front(common sound mix balance is really pleasant,with just few ultra-low frequencies deep lows,dangerous for acoustic system). "My Funny Valentine" sounds surprisingly warm and original at the beginning but probably lasts a bit too long, last quoter of twelve minute-composition isn't all interesting and sounds like trio continues playing just because can't decide how to finish the song.
Second of three album's Mal originals,"La Petite Africaine", is excellent example of Waldron as composer. Again,pushed ahead with bopish but extremely groovy rhythm section,it shows how great Mal music sounds when more flesh and blood are added.
Album's closer (and title song) has been already recorded by Mal earlier this year,but in solo piano version (released on "Tokyo Reverie" same year). This live version,played with muscular trio opens new colors of this great composition, Waldrom will return playing it again and again years and decades after.
In all,better than average Waldron album,one between his best recorded during early 70s. Original vinyl LP is collectable rarity (it was re-released on vinyl some years later in Japan). Fortunately,there are French and Japanese CD reissues available on market,so there are some more accessible ways to get this strong album for your collection.