Jazz pianist Malcolm Earl Waldron was born on 16 August 1926 in New York City and died of colon cancer on 2 December 2002 in Brussels. Waldron was heavily influenced by Thelonious Monk; however he quickly developed a unique style of his own. His distinctive chord voicings and rhythmic playing fit well into both bebop and free jazz idioms.

Mal's musical experience began with two feet planted on two roads: jazz on the alto saxophone and classical music on the piano. While attending Queens College Mal planted both his feet on the same road, jazz piano, and had been running fast down that path since then. His first recorded date was with tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec, and he had other early gigs Della Reese, Big Nick Nicholas and some R&B bands. From 1954-56 Mal played with Charles Mingus, and from 57-59 he was Billie Holiday's regular accompianist.

After a few dates backing John Coltrane, fresh from the Miles Davis Quintet, Mal Waldron garnered serious attention as part of a quintet with reedsman Eric Dolphy and trumpeter Booker Little. 1963 was an unfortunate year for Waldron; he suffered a nervous breakdown which forced him to essentially relearn to play the piano. In 1965 Waldron moved to Europe permanently, settling in Münich in 1967. He enjoyed success and recognition in Europe, recording for many European labels.

Waldron was also a successful composer, "Soul Eyes" has become a jazz standard and he composed several film scores and background music for the stage.

Waldron remained active continuously until his death. He frequently collaborated with soprano saxman Steve Lacy. Diagnosed with colon cancer, he continued his work and died while on tour in Belgium. Rest in peace, Mal.

There is a Mal Waldron web page (auf Deutsch) at http://www.jazzpages.com/MalWaldron; go there for a great photo of him taken in 1997.

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