Walt Dickerson: To My Queen

Vibraphonist Dickerson, perhaps a link between Jackson and Hutcherson, was thought to be at his best on this 1962 album, here with bonuses

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Vibist Walt Dickerson could be seen as the link between Milt Jackson’s bebop approach and the more innovative Bobby Hutcherson and this album is understandably considered to be the zenith of his recording career.

His regular collaborators at the time – pianist Andrew Hill, drummer Andrew Cyrille and George Tucker on bass – show great empathy and mutual understanding in their playing, and it’s interesting to hear the early work of Hill, soon a mainstay at Blue Note, and Cyrille, before his excursion towards freer areas, Cecil Taylor and beyond. The solos are distributed imaginatively and Cyrille impresses with his easy swing, shifting tempos, infills and occasional dramatic bursts.

Dickerson and Tucker lead gently into the long title track, To My Queen, dedicated to Dickerson’s wife. The tempo is raised by Cyrille midway for a perfect interlude from Hill, hinting at more expansive experimentation whilst retaining the feeling. Tucker’s bass entices, taking the rhythm right down then pulling it up before the group resumes.

Dickerson opens out on How Deep, vibraphone resonating clearly, his inventive solo retaining an element of restraint. God Bless The Child has Tucker’s bowed bass shadowing the vibes, and an indication of Dickerson’s liking for a duo format, which he pursued in later years.

The original album was only just over half an hour, so SoundsGood have included two extra tracks – a 1965 quartet with Sun Ra (lending an air of dissonance) which MGM issued as Impressions Of A Patch Of Blue, the music based on a Jerry Goldsmith film score. (Dickerson and Ra were later to record together again for Steeplechase in 1978.)

Sense Of Direction is from an earlier (1961) album of that name released on New Jazz (NJLP 8268). Bright and attractive, Dickerson gets solid support. (The cover here mistakenly names Edgar Bateman as the drummer and Eustis Guillemet as bass.) I can’t help feeling another track from this session would have been more in-keeping than the Ra, which is something of a curiosity.

Discography
(1) To My Queen; (2) Bacon And Eggs; (1) How Deep Is The Ocean; God Bless The Child; (3) Sense Of Direction.(43.57)
Dickerson (vib) with:
(1) Andrew Hill (p); George Tucker (b); Andrew Cyrille (d). New Jersey, 21 September 1962.
(2) Sun Ra (p); Bob Cunningham (b); Roger Blank (d). NY, 1965.
(3) Austin Crowe (p); Edgar Bateman (b); Eustis Guillemet Jr (d). New Jersey, 5 May 1961.
SoundsGood 66412