HI-FI NEWS & RECORD REVIEW, Dec 1999
Founding bebop drummer Roach played this concert of duets with pianist Waldron (whose CV includes Mingus, Holiday, Dolphy and Shepp) on 20 September 1995. Much of the music was completely improvised, with tunes surfacing as Waldron thought fit. A bluesy, out-of-time feel allows the duo to swap ideas without resorting to the chirrups of explicit dialogue. Roach's timbral palette is so deft his contributions are practically orchestral. Having avoided the trap of self-emulation, these two veterans can now stretch out and have fun. Cheering.
VOICE, Sept 1999
This is a live recording of a concert celebrating Waldron's 70th birthday in 1995 and as a pianist he has few peers and the extent to which he can inter-relate to his old friend and expert drummer Max Roach is clear throughout. Music of this nature requires the very high degree of empathy and this is very prevalent throughout the release that is of considerable historical significance.
JAZZIZ, Nov 1999
In September 1995, to mark his 70th birthday, pianist Mal Waldron performed a series of concerts in Antwerp. His duet with drummer Max Roach has now been issued as a two-CD set. Both modern-jazz legends have kept their music fresh through such unlikely encounters. In duet with Anthony Braxton and with Cecil Taylor, Roach has demonstrated the depth of bebop's sense of time, proving that free-jazz excess is best understood as an extension of bop. Here, Roach shows that intuitive repartee and medleys can also provide occasion for profound musicianship. Maybe there's nothing quite so avant-garde as free-improvising the blues. As the audience's applause recedes like surf, Roach unleashes his trademark stick-on-hi-hat sizzle. An answering keyboard trickle from Waldron initiates the intimate-yet-alert dialogue that constitutes both hour-long sets. Waldron eschews intricacy for chunky gospel assertions, sending out waves of rhythm. Waldron's sombreness highlights Roach's orchestral deployment of bass, tom, snare and cymbal; a master class in how great drumming is as much about timbre as rhythm. In the last analysis, though, it is an astonishing sense of time that allows Roach and Waldron to play and listen at once. They play subtly out of time, creating non linear possibilities; total flow in two directions. This release is a manifesto for the unassailable - and unsuperseded - virtues of swing. BEN WATSON