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Bebop Spoken There

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CD Review: Ben Williams - State of Art

A significant first album with his State of Art, celebrated bassist Ben Williams has given us a mellow flame to curl up in front of in our misty autumn darkness.
A graduate of Juilliard and reflectively nurtured by mentors, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, his devotion and generosity radiates out from the heart of the album like a Yuletide log fire, along with reflections of his heroes, Miles, Monk, Duke, Bird and of course, Mingus.
I liked that the album isn't all about ME, with 6 tracks out of the 11 by other composers/songwriters, all lovingly crafted by Williams the arranger. 
I have to say I loved The Lee Morgan Story, by rap emcee John Robinson with a beautifully sidewinding tribute trumpet played by Christian Scott. This is jazz as storytelling with a latin, hip hop feel - the tragic tale of a horn legend cut down on stage...."It was a gun that ended his life....." fired by his own girlfriend - he was only 33.  
Home, Ben's opening track is a nice dark continental groove, drifting into Brazil. Some great clippy guitar work from Matthew Stevens against the cool tenor of Marcus Strickland left me wanting more.
Meanwhile I wasn't so sure about the treatment of the Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson tracks (Part Time Lover & Little Susie), not enough content to do justice to his arrangement skills in my opinion, although the short bass intro for the latter, credited to Ben, is blissful.
Overall it seems that Ben is maybe over modest and needs to really dive into his own pieces with as much ingenuity and gusto as he's devoted to the other arrangements. 
Speaking of which, the treatment of Goapele & Jeffry Bhasker's Things Don't Exist is superb with the string quartet woven skillfully into the frame with Strickland's soprano and Gerald Clayton's piano sounding like an unlikely duet between Garbarek and Bill Evans. Then a fitting finale with John Blackburn & Karl Suessdorf's Moonlight in Vermont - a wonderful tone poem with Ben on evocative electric bass and the perfect way to say goodnight. 
Thanks for this Ben, a great start to an album career!
George Milburn.
Ben Williams - State of Art now available on Concorde Jazz label.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

el link?

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