The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Mal Waldron

January 23rd, 2024

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…..The Naples, Italy native Giovanni Piesco is an Amsterdam-based photographer who since 1985 has taken photographs of the famous and the unknown, in places and in ritual, consistently demonstrating a flair for capturing the essence of human character.

…..Among his passions is jazz music and the musicians who create it.  Beginning in 1990, Giovanni began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world.

…..Jerry Jazz Musician  will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the pianist/composer Mal Waldron, taken on three separate appearances at Bimhuis (1996, 2000 and 2001).

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Click here to visit Giovanni Piesco’s website

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…..During the 1950’s the jazz pianist, composer and arranger Malcolm Earl “Mal” Waldron (1925 – 2002) played in his own bands as well as those led by the likes of Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean and Eric Dolphy.  From 1957 until her death in 1959, he was Billie Holiday’s regular accompanist, and subsequently played piano with Abbey Lincoln (along with her husband, the drummer Max Roach).  Waldron was described by critic and musician Alyn Shipton as “one of the most sublime accompanists in jazz”

…..Waldron’s most famous composition, “Soul Eyes,” was written for and recorded by John Coltrane in 1957.  He also wrote for modern ballet, and composed the scores of several feature films. As a pianist, Waldron’s roots lay chiefly in the hard bop and post-bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s, but with time he gravitated more towards free jazz.  He is known for his dissonant chord voicings and distinctive later playing style, which featured repetition of notes and motifs.

…..Waldron’s own assessment of his style was that it was partly a reflection of his personality: “It’s part of my personality to be very economical with what I have and to use it in all variations before I move to the next set of notes”.  He acknowledged the influences of Holiday (on his conception of space and playing behind the beat), Mingus (for the importance of individuality), and Roach (on the value of time signatures (other than the usual 4/4), as well as pianists Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and Art Tatum.

(part of this text from Wikipedia via Creative Commons Deed.)

Click here to visit Mal Waldron’s complete Wikipedia page.

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All photos © Giovanni Piesco

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Mal Waldron
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May 23, 1996

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May 23, 1996

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April 28, 2000

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April 28, 2000

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April 28, 2001

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Listen to the 1957 recording of Mal Waldon’s most famous composition, “Soul Eyes,” with Waldron on piano and (among others) John Coltrane (tenor saxophone); Kenny Burrell (guitar); Paul Chambers (bass); and Art Taylor (drums).  [Universal Music Group]

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Click here to visit Giovanni Piesco’s website

Click here to view previous editions of The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco

Click here to read The Sunday Poem

Click here for information about how to submit your poetry, short fiction or art

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Click here to help support the ongoing publication of Jerry Jazz Musician, and to keep it commercial-free (thank you!)

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