For this edition of the Piano Series of concerts, organized in Paris by André Francis among others, the stage is afforded to two exemplary pianists.
First up is Mal Waldron, a New York legend who came of age in the 1950s playing for groups led by Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy Billie Holliday and John Coltrane, for whom he wrote the standard "Soul Eyes." A drug overdose in 1963 left Waldron without the ability to play or remember any music ("I couldn't remember my own name. My hands were trembling, I couldn't play the piano. I needed shock treatments and a spinal tap to bring me back") and it was in Europe where he got his career back on track. Here, therefore, we are seeing a rejuvinated version of the great pianist, who delivers four tracks including "Watashi no Sekal," whose Japanese title mirrors the sudden success Waldron was experiencing in the country at the time.
Joachim Kühn follows, a majestic pianist hailing from Germany who formed his style in the old GDR. There are no accompanists for Kühn, who chooses the solo piano format, unspooling harmonic sequences of contrasting moods that shift between often opposing emotions. Having moved to Paris just a few years before this concert, he is considered jazz royalty in Europe and has worked with the likes of Don Cherry, Michel Portal, Billy Cobham and more. Both artists are dazzling in their own way and it was a masterstroke to put them on the same stage.