Ben Markley Big Band

Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton

By taking tunes pianist Cedar Walton created during his tenure with the Jazz Messengers (“I’m Not So Sure”), wrote for Joe Henderson (“Black”) and composed for trios and quartets bearing his own name, Ben Markley has lovingly crafted an exciting, intense disc that brings a new perspective to Walton’s music.

Clockwork is a retrospective of sorts. The compositions span Walton’s entire career, but Markley—along with a group of highly talented musicians and guest trumpeter Terell Stafford—aren’t creating staid tribute music. On “Martha’s Prize,” Markley allows the full band to carry the opening piano melody, broadening the harmonic content and using the melody as a way to explore Walton’s writing. The main figure is passed throughout the band, but always handled delicately and musically. In addition to outstanding solo turns, Clockwise really excites when highlighting smaller ensembles within the group. Markley’s writing for the saxophones is invigorating, and when he allows the trumpets to navigate vertiginous lines of bebop, it brings a bit of added flair.

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August 2024
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