Born August 16, 1926, American piano legend Mal Waldron was known for his distinctive chord voicings and adaptable style, which was originally inspired by the playing of Thelonious Monk. Waldron was skillfull at weaving melodic improvistaions often with just a few notes.
After obtaining a B.A. in music from Queen's College, New York, he worked in New York City in the early 1950s with Ike Quebec, "Big" Nick Nicholas, and rhythm and blues groups. He worked frequently with Charles Mingus from 1954 to 1956 and was Billie Holiday's regular accompanist from 1957 until her death in 1959. He also supervised recording sessions for Prestige Records, for which he provided arrangements and compositions (including the jazz standard "Soul Eyes"). After Holiday's death he chiefly led his own groups.
He was frequently recorded, both as a leader and sideman, with, among others, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Clifford Jordan, Booker Little, Steve Lacy, and Jackie McLean.
After working on a film score in Europe he moved there permanently in 1965 initially living in Munich, Germany and in his last years he was based in Brussels, Belgium. He regularly returned to the United States for bookings. Through the 1980s and 1990s he worked in various settings with Steve Lacy, notably in soprano-piano duets playing their own compositions as well as Monk's.
Waldron left one of his last recordings for French label Sketch, a trio date One More Time
with Steve Lacy and bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel. After some years of indifferent health, though continuing to perform, Waldron died in December 2002 in Brussels, Belgium.