For the second straight time (and for his second Astor Place release), pianist Cedar Walton sticks to his own compositions for this recording. What is different from his debut on the label is that, in this case, many of the songs have been around awhile, including his classic, "Boliva," "When Love Is New" and "Mode for Joe." Walton and his trio (bassist Ron Carter and drummer Lewis Nash) are joined by a five-man horn section (which includes trumpeter Don Sickler), percussionist Ray Mantilla and, on three songs apiece, a featured guest: tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, trumpeter Terence Blanchard and/or guitarist Mark Whitfield. Everyone plays up to par (Redman, in particular, is in fine form), and overall, this is a solid, modern hard bop date that reaches its potential.
Ida Haendel’s sinewy and athletic reading of the often under-rated Britten combines toughness with a cumulative dramatic impetus which is hard to resist. Berglund and the Bournemouth players respond with a terse and argumentative vigour, suitably balanced between resignation and defiant rhetoric, especially in the closing Passacaglia. The Walton Concerto, also dating from 1938-9, is played with an apposite blend of inscrutable panache, as in the irrepressibly brilliant central movement, and elsewhere, a sensuous, if occasionally over-indulgent languor. Rare lapses in the finale can be safely overlooked, in a performance of eloquence and undisputed stature.
The music on Among Friends was actually performed at San Francisco's Keystone Korner during a recorded engagement by the Bobby Hutcherson sextet. Pianist Cedar Walton opened each set with a few numbers and he was playing so well that in 1990 Evidence decided to release his material as a separate CD. Walton performs three songs ("Ruby My Dear," "My Old Flame" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face") solo, interprets four other pieces (three standards plus his own "Midnight Waltz"), in a trio with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Higgins, and Hutcherson himself makes the group a quartet on "My Foolish Heart." Excellent hard bop-based music from the talented pianist.
This is an album of modern commercial, radio friendly, finely crafted rock n roll / country tunes. Do not expect wild sounding rockabilly or a pastiche of 50’s rock n roll. Bo and his team have cleverly put together a collection that while it remains steeped in the roots of the rock n roll genre it gathers influence from all of the many and varied elements that make up the 50+ year history of this music. Then they add a dash of modern sounding country, sixties pop, etc stir and shake it all together and produce a sound that is highly listenable with songs that sound fresh and firmly of the now. Kicking off with the strong Hangin’ On, an instantly catchy country rock tune the album then tears into I Like It Like That, a straight out rock n roll number with a catchy sing along car radio chorus and a great guitar sound.