Monday, September 21, 2009

DUET

Dear Kenn,

I saw the ad for “Kenn Cox and Donald Walden Duet at Kerrytown”, a live album you and the saxophonist cutback in 1994, in the Metrotimes. The ad announced therecording would be available at the DetroitInternational Jazz Festival. I planned to purchase the date at Street Corner Records booth, but opening night of the jazz festival Bruce Hutchinson, one of the album’s producers gave me a copy. I’ve listened toit repeatedly since. The album feels as if you and Donald allowed a select group of fans to listen in on a rehearsal.Theplaying on "Duet" is equal to the two fine albums by saxophonist Archie Shepp and pianist Horace Parlan"Goin' Home" and "Trouble in MInd"

Kenn you and Donald were two of Detroit best musicians. Kenn I miss you so much. I listen to your solo on “Low Flame” on saxophonist James Carter’s album “Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge” daily. That solo epitomizes your style. You never rushed a solo. You you’re your divided adherence to each note, and you treated the piano with the utmost respect not banging and abusing it as if you despised it. Your fingersmade love to the black and white keys. That attention to detail and reverence showed on “Duet”, especiallywhen you soloed on “Misterioso”.

Walden was the perfect counterpart. In my eye’s, Walden was always a preserver of be bop. Walden was alsoa gatekeeper of Thelonious Monk’s music, understanding the the nuts and bolts of the Monk's music. Thesaxophonist proved the On the two of three Monk’s classics selected for this album “Ask Me Now” and“Worry Later”.

If someone asked me to recommend a Walden composition that shows him at his best, I would point to“Portrait of You”, the ballad he wrote for his wife Marsha Walden. “This Goodbye Could Last a Long, LongTime” would be my contingency recommendation.

I told Walden playing ballads was his hallmark. I always cited Walden's treatment of Monks ballad “RubyMy Dear” on Walden’s sophomore album “A Monk and A Mingus AmongUs” as proof of the saxophonist affinityfor ballads. Walden was a modest musician.

Kenn on “Worry Later” you played as if you figured out how to channel Monk’s spirit. I am sure now you andWalden have settled in heaven. The Detroit and Ann Arbor jazz community miss you guys something awful. Fortunately, people in Detroit such as Bruce Hutchinson, and bassist Marion Hayden who wrote the album liner notes are keeping your music and Donald’s alive.
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