Dealin' With It


Originally released on CD in 1991 and now part of Concord's Digital Only catalog, Wheelin' And Dealin' (OJC) teams John Coltrane with tenor saxophonists Frank Wess, who also chirps in on flute, and Paul Quinichette. But, the real stars of this 1957 set are drummer Art Taylor, who keeps the rhythm engine constantly stoked and burning, and pianist Mal Waldron, whose accompaniment constantly calls the exploring soloists back home and whose own solos elegantly glide between soft jazz, hard bop, and smooth blues.

Waldron's piano solos in "Wheelin'," classic hard bop driven hard by the rhythm section and soloists, little more than a framework to rip the lid off and blow, are stunning in their complexity, scope, and rhythm, as his ideas flow in an unceasing torrent of crisply articulated notes. He dominates the first take, leaving the saxophonists to return piano with saxophone fire in the second version. Wess' flute introduces a lighter sound that softly yet brightly contrasts with the abundant fire-breathing, ferocious tenor sax.

Billie Holiday's accompanist in her life's closing years, Waldron also appears with Coltrane on Mal / 2 (OJC, '91); with Wess on Olio (OJC, 1999), from Concords' Digital Only catalog; in the RVG Remaster Series with Ron Carter and Eric Dolphy on the trio exploration Where? (Prestige, 2008); and is feted on the compilation Soul Eyes: The Mal Waldron Memorial Album (Prestige, '98).

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