Mal Waldron

~ Person


A major pianist with a very distinctive play, although somewhat reminiscent of Monk's work, Mal Waldron was Billie Holiday last accompanist.
Then playing with Eric Dolphy (on the incredible Five Spot sessions), John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and others, Mr Waldron suffered from a severe health problem in the early 60's, thus had to relearn piano from his own records.

Most people can start with The Quest (an exceptionnal Dolphy record), or Mal-2, while listeners more familiar with his 60's work could jump in his later collaborations with Steve Lacy (Live at Dreher), or the sweet (and somewhat rare) Soul Eyes.

Annotation last modified on 2006-05-16 18:18 UTC.


Malcolm Earl "Mal" Waldron (August 16, 1925 – December 2, 2002) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. He started playing professionally in New York in 1950, after graduating from university. In the following dozen years or so Waldron led his own bands and played for those led by Charles Mingus, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy, among others. During Waldron's period as house pianist for Prestige Records in the late 1950s, he appeared on dozens of albums and composed for many of them, including writing his most famous song, "Soul Eyes", for Coltrane. Waldron was often an accompanist for vocalists, and was Billie Holiday's regular accompanist from April 1957 until her death in July 1959.

A breakdown caused by a drug overdose in 1963 left Waldron unable to play or remember any music; he regained his skills gradually, while redeveloping his speed of thought. He left the U.S. permanently in the mid-1960s, settled in Europe, and continued touring internationally until his death.

In his 50-year career, Waldron recorded more than 100 albums under his own name and more than 70 for other band leaders. He also wrote for modern ballet, and composed the scores of several feature films. As a pianist, Waldron's roots lay chiefly in the hard bop and post-bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s, but with time he gravitated more towards free jazz. He is known for his dissonant chord voicings and distinctive later playing style, which featured repetition of notes and motifs.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1957 Earthy Kenny Burrell, Art Farmer, Hal McKusick, Mal Waldron, Teddy Kotick, Ed Thigpen 1
1958 Mal/3 Sounds Mal Waldron 1
1965 Body & Soul Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, Hank Mobley, Mal Waldron, Curtis Fuller, Paul Quinichette, Hank Jones 1
1970 Spanish Bitch Mal Waldron 1
1971 First Encounter Mal Waldron & Gary Peacock 1
1971 The Call Mal Waldron 2
1972 Reminicent Suite Mal Waldron, 日野皓正 1
1972 The Whirling Dervish Mal Waldron 1
1973 On Steinway Mal Waldron 2
1974 Hard Talk Mal Waldron 1
1987 Sempre amore Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron 1
1987 In Retrospect Mal Waldron 1
1990 Movie Themes From France Barney Wilen With Mal Waldron Trio 1
1991 Hot House Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron 2
1991 I'll Be Around Tiziana Ghiglioni & Enrico Rava & Mal Waldron 1
1992 Crowd Scene Mal Waldron 1
1994 Waldron-Haslam Mal Waldron & George Haslam 1
1996 Mal-1 Mal Waldron 2
1996 Left Alone Mal Waldron 2
1996 Mal-2 Mal Waldron 1
1997 The Quest Mal Waldron 3
1997 Communiqué Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron 1
1999 Explorations... to the Mth Degree Max Roach & Mal Waldron 1
2001 After Hours Jeanne Lee & Mal Waldron 1
2002 One More Time Mal Waldron 1
Black Spirits Are Here Again Roberto Ottaviano & Mal Waldron 1
Blues for Lady Day Mal Waldron 2
Impressions Mal Waldron 1
Mal-2 Mal Waldron 1
Mal/4 Trio Mal Waldron 1
Soul Eyes Mal Waldron 1
Up Popped the Devil Mal Waldron 1
What It Is Mal Waldron 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2015 The Recordings Part One 1956-1957 Mal Waldron 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1986 Piano Duo Live at Pit Inn Mal Waldron & Yosuke Yamashita 1
1997 All Alone Mal Waldron 1
1997 Travellin' in Soul-Time: Live From Tokyo, Nagasaki and Kobuchizawa Mal Waldron, Jeanne Lee & Toru Tenda 1
1998 The Big Rochade Mal Waldron, Nicolas Simion 1
2003 Live at Dreher Paris 1981, Volume 2: The Peak Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron 2
2007 From Dark Into the Light Mal Waldron Quartet 1
"Live at Jazz Unité": Some Jive Ass Boer Johnny Dyani & Mal Waldron 1

Unspecified type

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
2002 Left Alone Revisited Archie Shepp & Mal Waldron 1
live at dreher Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy 1

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