David Murray and Mal Waldron, Silence (Justin Time)

The voice of experience echoes through Silence, a duet recording by saxophonist David Murray and pianist Mal Waldron. Recorded a year before Waldron died in 2002, this is the legend’s last known recording. These senior statesmen of the jazz establish their authority from the first notes on this excellent album. Neither Waldron nor Murray ever breaks a sweat. The music doesn’t show urgency or a sense of danger. But each musician plays at a level where they can breeze through material that would flummox other musicians. It’s a joy to hear two masters handle challenging music with such aplomb. On “All Too Soon” they express a sadness with no hint of sentimentality, a sound that comes from hard experience. “I Should Care” has a stately dignity. And “Hurray for Herbie” sounds avant-garde without being confrontational. The track raises the possibility that the last century’s more radical tendencies might find a wider audience, just as in the visual arts early Modernism eventually became mainstream. Stripped of the fire of youth, Silence doesn’t grab you at the first listen. These are musician with no need to prove themselves or win over a new audience. With each listen, though, Silence reveals greater depth. It might be a minor masterpiece.