To My Queen is Walt Dickerson's crowning achievement, a perfect balance between his intellectually advanced concepts and deeply felt passion. Dickerson had always displayed a fertile imagination, but there hadn't been much indication that his vision could be as expansive as it was on To My Queen. Never before had he attempted such extended, freely structured performances, which makes the album's consistency and focus all the more impressive. Like the foreground of a canvas, the listener's attention naturally falls on the title cut, a side-long, 17-and-a-half-minute opus (written in tribute to his wife, Elizabeth) that became Dickerson's signature piece. It's deliberate, spare, and tender, with the soloists accompanied by either a gentle swing or the barest hints of support. Dickerson's shimmering opening statements are followed by thoughtful explorations from pianist Andrew Hill and bassist George Tucker, while drummer Andrew Cyrille offers subtle, whisper-quiet shadings, save for occasional drum rolls that come off like momentarily swelling passions amidst all the introspection. The second half of the album maintains the mood set by the first, featuring an 11-minute version of "How Deep Is the Ocean" and a vibes/bass duet on "God Bless the Child" that trumps Dickerson's earlier effort in the same vein. This is arguably the finest quartet Dickerson ever led, not just because of the advanced musicianship and sympathetic interplay, but also because each member serves the material with taste and care. The whole album is swathed in a gauzy glow that speaks even more eloquently than its creator's conceptual ambition; this is music from the heart as well as the mind.