Over the past fifteen years, I've asked Myron Walden a ton of questions about his approach to improvisational music. Early on, he often gave no answer; and even when he did, he rarely did so right away. Rather than yield to my inquisitiveness, he let me infer from his silence that his music speaks for itself. Only gradually did he open up; and as I got to know him, I discovered that he chooses his friends and his notes very cautiously. Perhaps this is because he pours so much of himself into both. He cares deeply about them. He caresses and challenges them; and he expends his creative energies on only those that are proven. Those who would truly know Myron Walden and the music that emanates from his soul must acquire that knowledge through patience. He is no
run-of-the-mill saxophonist. He is no carbon copy. He is a man who works extremely hard to nourish that which is precious to him. It's what he does. His friends and his notes get the special treatment.

Painfully attentive to the honing of his craft, Myron has become more fearless as a soloist, and more spatially generous as a composer and bandleader. He is increasingly sensitive to both the sounds and potential soundings all around him. This is what inspires me about Momentum. No one should be surprised that it features a line-up of brilliant musicians. Those familiar with Myron's work have come to expect as much. What might catch you off guard is that every track features him on tenor saxophone - a daring departure from his trusty alto. Few horn players could pull this off. But Myron does just that, and I must say he does it with unusual aplomb. My friend's distinct voice is ever recognizable through the urgency of his tone, the twists and turns of his harmonies, and the yearning quality of his melodic passages. And he keeps taking us higher.

It's not simply that he has become more technically virtuosic over time. Since I've known him, his music has always reflected that coveted quality; and I suspect that Myron himself would remind us that it can be overrated by those who equate it with the shallow thrills and trills of saxophonic dexterity. And I wouldn't necessarily say that his music has mellowed with age. It might very well appear that way at times; but such a cliché concerning the entirety of his oeuvre is imprecise. On several occasions, mostly on stage with Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, I have stood close enough to Myron to feel the Spirit that radiates from him when he reaches the zenith of a solo - close enough even to witness the genesis of ecstatic utterances that erupt from his heart. Rest assured, Myron Walden still brings his fire and his passion. With love and honesty, he speaks through his songs, and his Momentum carries all of us forward to witness the splendor of a flower that seeks the sun in a new season.

Melvin Butler, Chicago 2009
Melvin Butler is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Chicago


About the selections It requires a tremendous amount of discipline to perfect the arts of pacing, precision, and flow in artistic expression. With Momentum, composer-instrumentalist Myron Walden puts on a clinic. Right from the start, his stellar quintet fires on all cylinders.

The brisk-tempoed "Of Three Worlds" features a whispering theme that ebbs and flows, prompting the rhythm section to swing hard underneath the sustained tones of the frontline. Trumpeter Darren Barrett solos first, cascading up and down through precarious metric modulations. Walden overlaps with short energetic bursts, after which the keyboard and bass lay out, affording him space to unleash his longer strings of sonic tissue. Keyboardist David Bryant then toys with time and timbre on the bell-like Fender Rhodes. "The Road Ahead" offers a calming contrast, with Yasushi Nakamura's bossa-like bass figures and a meandering melody that makes masterful use of counterpoint and dynamic shading. Barrett's bluesy trumpet then resets the stage for an effervescenttenor solo. At times, Walden deliberately disorients us with his rhythmic phrasing. Motivic displacements call attention to his delicate dialogue with drummer Kendrick Scott. It's impossible not to notice Walden's remarkable knack for teasing his audience with tension. You can cut it with a knife on "Pulse." His solo forecasts a harmonic change at one point, and when he finally reached a dramatic climax and permits some measure of sweet release, he yields almost too quickly to the intrepid improviser who follows. But the hand-off is flawless. Barrett takes off on the high note, and the piece ascends through the keyboard solo and until the mixed-meter melody returns, bringing us down to earth in time to realize the "Vision of a Visionary." This time, it's Kendrick Scott who makes it plain, as crisply played background lines from Walden and Barrett support his drum solo. "Miles" then reveals the subtler side of Scott, who treats us to some tasty brushwork behind Walden's moody tenor. The horn players solo simultaneously on the succinct selection, "When Time Stood Still." Both men deftly weave through dense harmonies before recapitulating the theme and later allowing Scott to shine once more in the reprise. One of the set's most thrilling pieces is "What Goes Up Must Come Down," which showcases Walden's fantastic two-part writing. Barrett sails confidently through the chord changes, dovetailing with Walden, who pushes and prods his companions with accented allusions to the theme. Bryant chimes in with some crystal clean commentary on keys. "Longing" tells a more melancholy story. The poignant lament of Walden's tenor leaves ample space for the rhythm section to finesse an underlying hypnotic groove. Nakamura's solid-but-supple bass really comes through on this one, paving the way for his foreword to "Like a Flower Seeking the Sun," a nostalgic gesture toward Walden's 1999 project. The saxophone's silky upper register gels so nicely with the trumpet on"Memories." Nakamura's bass solo precedes a gentlemanly joust between Walden and Barrett. Their spirited interplay is just one of several high points on this sublime session, which approaches its conclusion with "Carnage," a take-no-prisoners vehicle for more impassioned blowing by the members of the ensemble.

Melvin Butler, Chicago 2009
Melvin Butler is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Chicago


1. Of Three Worlds 5:30
2. The Road Ahead 5:03
3. Pulse 8:11
4. Vision of a Visionary 3:51
5. Miles 4:10
6. When Time Stood Still 1:37
7. What Goes Up Must Come Down 5:23
8. Longing 6:21
9. Like a Flower Seeking the Sun 1:30
10. Memories 5:40
11. Carnage 6:04
12. When Time Stood Still 1:20

Myron Walden - tenor saxophone, Darren Barrett - trumpet

David Bryant- rhodes, Yasushi Nakamura - bass, Kendrick Scott - drums

Recorded at Acoustic Recording
Recorded by Michael Brorby
Mixed & Mastered by Katsuhiko Naito

All compositions and arrangements by Myron Walden.


Momentum is a labor of love, inspired by those who have gone before me and by my own love of music. There are many people I have encountered on my journey who have contributed to my development as musician and as a being, and I thank each and every one of you. There are a few that have given so much of themselves that I am compelled name them. For their presence and contributions to the project, I thank Darren Barrett, David Bryant, Yasushi Nakamura and Kendrick Scott. Without them I would have only ink on a page. As musicians, we are a community larger than the band, and I am grateful for the love and support of that community. In particular, I am grateful to Ron Blake and Darren Barrett who, after I expressed an interest in taking up the tenor, encouraged me in earnest. I am deeply appreciative of those who hired me on tenor when I first started on the horn, Ray Barretto, Jon Cowherd, David Weiss and Jason Lindner. For lessons in life as well as music, my thanks to Brian Blade and Vincent Herring. For liner notes that are as accurate a picture of me as an artist and a person as imaginable, I thank Melvin Butler. For providing the tools and maintenance which I use to bring my visions in music to fruition, thank you's to Keilwerth, Mike Manning, Fred Labelle and David Gould of Vandoren. To someone who has, without hesitation or reservation and with much patience, supported me in all my endeavors, my number one fan and love of a lifetime, thanks to my wife, Amy.

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Cover photography
Tray photography

©2009 Demi Sound Records. A Division of Nedlaw Enterprises. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

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