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Jeff Williams - Another Time Rating: 4 out of 5 A high degree of group interaction with Williams subtly dictating proceedings from the drums. With a strong balance between composition and improvisation the album absorbs and impresses throughout

Jeff Williams

“Another Time”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4616)

I first encountered the playing of the American drummer and composer Jeff Williams in the 1970’s when he appeared on a number of records featuring saxophonist Dave Liebman and his circle of musicians among them pianist Richie Beirach and bassist Frank Tusa. In more recent times I have enjoyed his work with British saxophonist Martin Speake.

Williams has also worked with an impressive roster of other major jazz artists during his long career including lengthy stints with saxophonists Stan Getz and Lee Konitz. He has also performed with Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Cedar Walton, Art Farmer, Michel Petrucciani, Randy Brecker, Paul Bley, John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Kenny Barron, Tony Malaby, Dave Holland, Tom Harrell, Bill McHenry and many more. It’s an impressive list and since establishing a second home in London in 2005 Williams has also ensconced himself on the British jazz scene working with Speake, Nikki Iles, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Hans Koller and others.

“Another Time”, released on bassist Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind Recordings label, represents Williams’ third outing as a leader following “Coalesce” (1991) and the more recent “Jazzblues” and is Williams’ first solo date for over a decade. Like its predecessors the new album has received considerable critical acclaim and rightly so. “Another Time” is an impressive piece of work that features Williams’ “American Quartet” featuring trumpeter Duane Eubanks, alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher and bassist John Hebert. Recorded in Brooklyn the final mix captures every nuance of what Time Out NY referred to as “Williams’ supple rhythmic flow”. Sourced from within the band the album features eight compositions, five from Williams with the other three members contributing one piece each. Given the “chordless” nature of the line up it comes as no surprise that the music bears some resemblance to that of Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet but there is also an underlying melodic quality and an inner logic to the music that prevents it from ever becoming too “difficult”. The four musicians know each other well having worked together in a variety of different settings and that chemistry is apparent throughout the recording with a high degree of group interaction and with Williams subtly dictating proceedings from the drums.

The album opens with Williams announcing his presence with an opening salvo of solo drums on his own composition “Search Me”. Eventually O’ Gallagher and Eubanks enter the proceedings, at some moments coalescing, at others trading phrases before each embarking on lengthy solos with O’Gallagher going first. He has a pure, almost austere tone on the alto but is a highly fluent and adaptable improviser as his playing throughout the album proves. Eubanks, a member of the famous musical dynasty that includes his brothers trombonist Robin and guitarist Kevin, is equally inventive and proves to be a good foil for O’Gallagher, the pair complement each other well throughout the album.

Williams’ “She Can’t Be A Spy” is a good example of the polyrhythmic flow of his drumming, subtly pushing the piece along as O’ Gallagher and Eubanks develop their sometimes surprisingly lyrical solo ideas. There’s also a section of solo bass from Hebert, so often the unsung hero in the Charlie Haden role.  Also by Williams “Double Life” explores broadly similar territory with some excellent unison horn passages punctuating the inevitable but always absorbing solos. 

Eubanks’ “Purple, Blue and Red” begins in pensive mood with the two horns combining mellifluously above the patter of Williams’ drums. Eubanks’ solo is similarly thoughtful as is Gallagher’s later effort but these episodes are punctuated by more up-tempo, almost conventionally swinging passages. It’s an intriguing piece of writing that sits well within the context of the album.

Hebert’s “Fez” evokes a suitably Middle Eastern feel expressed through the wails and slurs of Eubanks’ trumpet and O’Gallagher’s complementary alto. The saxophonist’s event packed, stream of consciousness solo is little short of stunning with Williams matching his every move with confidence and aplomb. There’s also a virtuoso bass solo from Hebert, alternatively plucked and strummed.

Williams’ “Under The Radar” is a superb example of his percussive skills . Hebert’s bass underpins his constantly unfolding patterns of pulses, rhythms, colours and accents. O’Gallagher and Eubanks deliver customarily intelligent, subtly probing solos and there are also brief moments when Hebert’s bass assumes the lead.

The pensive mood returns for O’Gallagher’s atmospheric “Go Where You’re Watching”, a brooding piece featuring an unaccompanied twin horn intro plus a passages for solo bass followed by an absorbing alto sax/double bass duet. It’s a supremely controlled performance and very different to much of the rest of the album. This record marks my introduction to the sound of John O’Gallagher. He impresses throughout and I suspect that his numerous solo albums will also prove worthy of further investigation. 

The album closes with “Another Time” itself. Williams’ choice of title references both the challenging economic climate and other world events but is also reference to the idiosyncratic rhythms and meters to be heard throughout the album. The buzz of Hebert’s arco bass accompanies the horns on the intro before the attractive theme emerges with its subtle horn voicings. Eubanks takes the first solo, quietly sinuous on the trumpet, eventually handing over to the excellent O’Gallagher. Williams’ drum work is as exquisite as ever with some supremely inventive cymbal colourings. 

It’s been a long time since Williams’ last solo album and “Another Time” proves to be well worth the wait. With a strong balance between composition and improvisation the album absorbs and impresses throughout with some fine playing from all concerned. Williams and his colleagues have come up with some strong themes to improvise around and this is an album that rewards careful listening. Inevitably many of the tracks end up sounding superficially similar but such is the quality of the dialogue between the musicians that the listener remains involved throughout with each piece constituting its own individual sound world.

Jeff Williams launches the album at the 2011 London Jazz Festival on November 18th at the Green Note venue. He will be joined by a UK band consisting of Phil Robson (guitar), Sam Lasserson (bass) and the award winning young saxophonist Josh Arcoleo. More details at http://www.greennote.co.uk

 

 

 

Another Time

Jeff Williams

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

Another Time

A high degree of group interaction with Williams subtly dictating proceedings from the drums. With a strong balance between composition and improvisation the album absorbs and impresses throughout

Jeff Williams

“Another Time”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4616)

I first encountered the playing of the American drummer and composer Jeff Williams in the 1970’s when he appeared on a number of records featuring saxophonist Dave Liebman and his circle of musicians among them pianist Richie Beirach and bassist Frank Tusa. In more recent times I have enjoyed his work with British saxophonist Martin Speake.

Williams has also worked with an impressive roster of other major jazz artists during his long career including lengthy stints with saxophonists Stan Getz and Lee Konitz. He has also performed with Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Cedar Walton, Art Farmer, Michel Petrucciani, Randy Brecker, Paul Bley, John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Kenny Barron, Tony Malaby, Dave Holland, Tom Harrell, Bill McHenry and many more. It’s an impressive list and since establishing a second home in London in 2005 Williams has also ensconced himself on the British jazz scene working with Speake, Nikki Iles, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Hans Koller and others.

“Another Time”, released on bassist Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind Recordings label, represents Williams’ third outing as a leader following “Coalesce” (1991) and the more recent “Jazzblues” and is Williams’ first solo date for over a decade. Like its predecessors the new album has received considerable critical acclaim and rightly so. “Another Time” is an impressive piece of work that features Williams’ “American Quartet” featuring trumpeter Duane Eubanks, alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher and bassist John Hebert. Recorded in Brooklyn the final mix captures every nuance of what Time Out NY referred to as “Williams’ supple rhythmic flow”. Sourced from within the band the album features eight compositions, five from Williams with the other three members contributing one piece each. Given the “chordless” nature of the line up it comes as no surprise that the music bears some resemblance to that of Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet but there is also an underlying melodic quality and an inner logic to the music that prevents it from ever becoming too “difficult”. The four musicians know each other well having worked together in a variety of different settings and that chemistry is apparent throughout the recording with a high degree of group interaction and with Williams subtly dictating proceedings from the drums.

The album opens with Williams announcing his presence with an opening salvo of solo drums on his own composition “Search Me”. Eventually O’ Gallagher and Eubanks enter the proceedings, at some moments coalescing, at others trading phrases before each embarking on lengthy solos with O’Gallagher going first. He has a pure, almost austere tone on the alto but is a highly fluent and adaptable improviser as his playing throughout the album proves. Eubanks, a member of the famous musical dynasty that includes his brothers trombonist Robin and guitarist Kevin, is equally inventive and proves to be a good foil for O’Gallagher, the pair complement each other well throughout the album.

Williams’ “She Can’t Be A Spy” is a good example of the polyrhythmic flow of his drumming, subtly pushing the piece along as O’ Gallagher and Eubanks develop their sometimes surprisingly lyrical solo ideas. There’s also a section of solo bass from Hebert, so often the unsung hero in the Charlie Haden role.  Also by Williams “Double Life” explores broadly similar territory with some excellent unison horn passages punctuating the inevitable but always absorbing solos. 

Eubanks’ “Purple, Blue and Red” begins in pensive mood with the two horns combining mellifluously above the patter of Williams’ drums. Eubanks’ solo is similarly thoughtful as is Gallagher’s later effort but these episodes are punctuated by more up-tempo, almost conventionally swinging passages. It’s an intriguing piece of writing that sits well within the context of the album.

Hebert’s “Fez” evokes a suitably Middle Eastern feel expressed through the wails and slurs of Eubanks’ trumpet and O’Gallagher’s complementary alto. The saxophonist’s event packed, stream of consciousness solo is little short of stunning with Williams matching his every move with confidence and aplomb. There’s also a virtuoso bass solo from Hebert, alternatively plucked and strummed.

Williams’ “Under The Radar” is a superb example of his percussive skills . Hebert’s bass underpins his constantly unfolding patterns of pulses, rhythms, colours and accents. O’Gallagher and Eubanks deliver customarily intelligent, subtly probing solos and there are also brief moments when Hebert’s bass assumes the lead.

The pensive mood returns for O’Gallagher’s atmospheric “Go Where You’re Watching”, a brooding piece featuring an unaccompanied twin horn intro plus a passages for solo bass followed by an absorbing alto sax/double bass duet. It’s a supremely controlled performance and very different to much of the rest of the album. This record marks my introduction to the sound of John O’Gallagher. He impresses throughout and I suspect that his numerous solo albums will also prove worthy of further investigation. 

The album closes with “Another Time” itself. Williams’ choice of title references both the challenging economic climate and other world events but is also reference to the idiosyncratic rhythms and meters to be heard throughout the album. The buzz of Hebert’s arco bass accompanies the horns on the intro before the attractive theme emerges with its subtle horn voicings. Eubanks takes the first solo, quietly sinuous on the trumpet, eventually handing over to the excellent O’Gallagher. Williams’ drum work is as exquisite as ever with some supremely inventive cymbal colourings. 

It’s been a long time since Williams’ last solo album and “Another Time” proves to be well worth the wait. With a strong balance between composition and improvisation the album absorbs and impresses throughout with some fine playing from all concerned. Williams and his colleagues have come up with some strong themes to improvise around and this is an album that rewards careful listening. Inevitably many of the tracks end up sounding superficially similar but such is the quality of the dialogue between the musicians that the listener remains involved throughout with each piece constituting its own individual sound world.

Jeff Williams launches the album at the 2011 London Jazz Festival on November 18th at the Green Note venue. He will be joined by a UK band consisting of Phil Robson (guitar), Sam Lasserson (bass) and the award winning young saxophonist Josh Arcoleo. More details at http://www.greennote.co.uk

 

 

 


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