Behind The 8 Ball by Douglas Payne
Face to Face by John SharpeMore articles about Baby Face Willette
Take the title track, a Willette original, for example. It's like a drag race over hot coals. Willette's "Song of the Universe," too, evokes the big bang that churns through the lava as if evolution is just a dance. "Tacos Joe" takes surf and rides the wave as if it's a matter of soul. Guitarist Ben White is a considerable factor for the music's success. He's a good foil and consistently takes a number of cool, finger-snapping soul-o's. But the opcorn maker's on when Willette lights into one of his syncopated solos. Much of his style originates from gospel and sits well in the blues. But he never relies on the familiar Jimmy Smith-like organ grinding to make his points. He can be subtle, without losing his grip on the groove and can hit hard without leaning too much on the pipes. It's amazing Behind the 8 Ball is only about half an hour long. It's like a party you don't want to end. But you realize it'd be hard to continuing partying that hard much longer. Behind the 8 Ball will be difficult (and expensive) to get a hold of, but it's worth it if you can.
Tracks:Behind the 8 Ball; Song of the Universe; Amen; Tacos Joe; Roll 'Em Pete; Just A Closer Walk; St. James Infirmary; Sinnin' Sam.
Personnel: Baby-Face Willette: organ; Ben White: guitar; Jerold Donavan: drums; Gene Barge: alto sax ("Amen" only).
Record Label: MCA
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