Almost a year after his first session for German ECM label,pianist Mal Waldron returned back to same Tonstudio Bauern in Ludwigsburg to record what should become his second album for ECM. Same trio format (with his regular Swiss bassist Isla Eckinger but new drummer Fred Braceful (as well American,based in Germany) instead of Clarence Becton), same musical concept - tight groovy tuneful compositions with some free solo insertions for bassist and drummer. As on Mal's ECM debut these insertions don't sound organic and are more tribute to free jazz fashion of the moment though.
Opener "Spanish Bitch" doesn't offer memorable tune and stays in memory more as not too successful combination between groovy trio's main theme and quite directionless (and long) bassist soloing. Second (and the last on side A)album's song is surprisingly "Eleanor Rigby". Released originally by "The Beatles" four years ago this composition still was one of most popular song around, trio makes it sound almost as r'n'b hit.
Side B opener,"Black Chant" is no-nonsense and more complex composition, here freer improvisation sounds much more organic and all trio play as one (quite heavyweight and rock-oriented drumming is probably again contribution to time's fashion and more a question of taste). Here one can find Waldron future music influences in transitional form."Black Chant" lasts more than ten minutes,some years later Mal will develop formula "one song per LP side" with tight tuneful compositions, sounding around twenty minutes each, two per album.
Fourth and last album song,"All That Funk",is up-tempo and really funky. Bassist Isla Eckinger got possibility to demonstrate his heavier (almost shredding) side on quite organically arranged soloing.In all, side B is less eclectic and works better,that side A on this release.
Surprisingly enough this material,initially recorded by ECM for their planned release,still same year has been released in Japan on Globe and never became ECM own album.
Not the best Mal Waldron release, it demonstrates well (together with ECM debut "Free At Last") musician's late 60s-early 70s musical priorities. Waldron is just one step to his favorite sound which he will demonstrate in full already after year or two and will continue playing in fact up to his death.