A Jazz Saxophonist Who Embraces Earnestness


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The saxophonist Myron Walden was cultivated at Smalls, New York’s magic garden for jazz musicians in the 1990s. There, in groups and on his own, he began to find his sound and style and temperament as an improviser, most often on alto saxophone. He’s been methodical and emotional, energetic and honest, following chord changes with a focused tone until his long notes start to ripen and burst in the upper register.

He’s done this in various settings. One has been driving, hectic, no-piano, small-group jazz: a post-Wayne Shorter saxophonist’s boxing ring. Another has been the glowing, pastoral gospel jazz of Brian Blade’s group, the Fellowship Band. Both kinds of music, in different ways, reflect a deep trust of the audience. They’re unafraid of the earnest gesture.

This month he’s performing every week at the Jazz Gallery, giving public previews of new groups he’s been developing recently. (Within the next six months he’ll release three new records on his own label, Demi.) On Wednesday he performed with a quintet, In This World, doing a kind of serious and benevolent ballad music.

In his first set, during slow and gracious monologues between songs, Mr. Walden stressed that the pieces came from moments of broad and solitary emotion, and struggled to convey their meaning. But the music said most of it: restful, sentimental, balanced. The titles, like “Inner Peace,” “A Love Eternal” and “When All Is Said and Done,” said the rest.

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