Revisited and remastered, with additional takes, texts and photos, here is the very first ECM session, recorded in Ludwigsburg in November 1969, featuring the great American pianist Mal Waldron, whose resume included work with Coltrane, Mingus, Dolphy and Billie Holiday. In his original liner notes, Mal wrote: “This album represents my meeting with free jazz. Free jazz for me does not mean complete anarchy… You will hear me playing rhythmically instead of soloing on chord changes.” As Jazz Journal noted, “tough, two-handed modal blues” predominates, and the music sounds as fresh now as the day it was recorded. Indeed, the tersely-grooving “Boo” and “Rock My Soul” could be club hits half a century later. The Extended Anniversary Edition of Free At Last is issued as an audiophile vinyl double album.
First I would like to thank you for buying my newest album. As you can see and hear this
album marks for me a different approach to my music. It represents my meeting with free jazz. Free jazz for me does not mean complete anarchy or disorganised sound. In my vocabulary disorganised sound still means noise. And don’t forget that the definition of music is organised sound. Therefore in this album you will hear me playing rhythmically instead of soloing on chord changes. About the musicians playing with me: Isla Eckinger is really a fantastic bass man with “great big ears”, meaning the ability to hear and respond to everything that happens in the music. Quoting Charles Mingus, “a cat that can hear like that could hear around corners”. Clarence Becton, our man on drums really knows how to
take care of business. Just listen at the ever swinging feeling he gives me on all the moving type tunes. It was really a pleasure making this album and hoping that you receive as much pleasure as we did.
Mal Waldron, 1969
“I feel if you look back too much, you trip when you take a step forward.”
– Mal Waldron