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JAZZ REVIEW : Cedar Walton’s Latest Lineup Retains Edge

Eastern Rebellion is the name used off and on since 1975 by a quartet under the direction of pianist Cedar Walton. As the evidence showed Tuesday at Catalina, the personnel and the geography have changed: Drummer Billy Higgins is the sole remaining original sideman and Walton now lives in Los Angeles.

What has not changed, fortunately, is the blistering hard-bop orientation of the unit, which is performing through Sunday. There is consistent interaction among the participants, whether they are involved in a beguiling Walton original such as “Roni’s Decision” or a standard ballad such as “My One and Only Love.”

The latter served as a showcase for Ralph Moore, a young tenor saxophonist whose technical prowess is evident, though he knows the value of holding back instead of performing as if being paid by the note. His opening chorus on the ballad was a rockable unaccompanied exercise that hewed close to the melody. When the rhythm section joined in he took off on a boldly inventive foray.

Walton, like Moore, knows the value of self-control, though he too is a superlative improviser. Both on his own pieces and on such works as Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower,” he displayed consistently incisive ideas both in single-note lines and in well-contrasted passages of rich chords.

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Completing the group is a relatively unheralded yet exceptional bass player, David Williams, whose solo on “Mosaic” showed the entire potential of the instrument, with flawless intonation and melodic creativity.


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