Jazz deluxe

Cedar Walton Quartet

Live jazz is best in a club venue, and the Sierra Nevada Big Room is as good as they come, as a nearly sold-out audience for the Cedar Walton Quartet Tuesday night can attest. The music was dazzling, the sight lines were generous and the acoustics were flawless.

Walton is a brilliant but self-effacing player, which is perhaps why he’s been underrated during his 40-plus years in jazz. The musicians he’s played with—Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and many others—know his worth, however.

Joined by David Williams on bass, Kenny Washington on drums and former Chico resident Vince Herring on tenor sax, Walton did two generous sets of standards and his own fine original tunes. His liquid playing was like cool water to Herring’s fiery bebop-driven licks, with Williams adding delicious fretwork. Highlights included Walton’s delightfully devious reworking of “Over the Rainbow,” Williams’ questing version of Sam Jones’ “Seven Minds,” and Herring’s quicksilver runs on such tunes as Walton’s “Fiesta Español.”

The only glitch was an electrical short that darkened some colored stage lights midway through. It was like the flaw purposely added to an exquisite Persian carpet in acknowledgement that only God is perfect.