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A strong and engaging
new album

Myron Walden - Countryfied
(Demi Sound Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 5, 2010
Myron Walden

Review by Brad Walseth

Saxophonist Myron Walden is a well-known saxophonist on the NYC scene, who won the prestigious Lincoln Center Charlie Parker Award before spending much of the '90s accompanying many of the top performers who played the city's Small's nightclub. He is perhaps best known for his work as a member of Ray Barretto's last band and in Brian Blade's Fellowship Band, and for the four well-received recordings he has released. Born in Miami, the young man later moved to the Bronx. Growing up, he listening to a wide range of music, including Charlie Parker, Gospel, Country, Blues, R&B and Rock n' Roll. On his fifth release as a leader, Countryfied, Walden draws upon all of these influences in a down home quartet setting, with Ron "The Octopus" Osawanski on organ, Israeli-American Oz Noy on guitar and Kenneth Salters on drums joining Walden -- who plays entirely on tenor sax on this album.

There is a low-down gritty, Southern-fried feel to these all-original tunes, and while the opening title track is a simmering blues with some rattlesnake guitar by Noy, there is more than a touch of churchiness to "What Will Be Will Be" -- which features Walden's soaring saxophone filled with the spirit. The compelling "I Cain't Do Nomore" should be an R&B hit and some clever singer should add some lyrics to this enjoyable number. The slow waltzing "Through it All" demonstrates Walden's way with a melody and his assured and singular sense of phrasing - his sax "sings" like an Otis Redding or Percy Sledge on this catchy tune. On "Between Us," Jared Gold takes over on organ, while Steven Elliot adds slide guitar on this sensuous and highly-satisfying track. The rest of the album is performed by the original quartet and mixes both exuberant, foot-stomping "good-time" music like "Double Dippin,'" "If It Wasn't For My Pride" and "Happy Feet" (which all exhibit some old time rock and roll influence) and savory slow compositions like the countryfied "Before You" and "I Get So Lonesome Sometimes."

In this day of disposable crossover country, one sometimes can forget the strong link that country and Jazz and R&B once had -- something people like Ray Charles explored. Walden has said this album was inspired by Southern roots music, and it truly lives up to its designs - a strong and engaging new album from a unique voice as a saxophonist and composer.

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