Whether the genre is blues, rhythm & blues or hard bop, Bill Easley remains a versatile and often silent practician of musical mastery. Easley has played with Sir Roland Hanna, James Williams, Bill Mobley, Mulgrew Miller, Grady Tate, George Caldwell, Victor Gaskin and Billy Higgins among others. Unfortunately for his audience, Bill Easley has not performed very often as a leader. His preference is to remain a steady contributor in the background. "Easley Said" is his fourth outing as a leader. We are indeed fortunate to be able to hear from a player often described as a "Tweener": Too young to be an "Old Master" and too old to be considered a "Young Lion" of jazz.
Bill Easley has certainly perfected his craft. He can play warm and soft or bright and dynamic when the need arises. Easley currently plays several instruments including alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. The players that Easley assembled for this session form the nucleus of a tight session, which allows Easley and the other front line players to stretch out on numerous occasions. The rhythm section features ‘Mr. Bow Tie' Ron Carter on bass, Mr. Billy Higgins on drums and Donald Brown on piano.
Never one to allow himself to be pigeonholed to anything in particular Easley enjoys doing different things, including stints on Broadway throughout the the 1996 Kennedy Center Tenth Anniversary celebration of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Listen to "Nina Never Knew" and hear a warm sensitive reading, with Easley in full control. "Runnin" flashes visions of vintage Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in respect to style and content. The solos are dynamic with an air of sophisticated interaction among the players.
"Born Out of Darkness" is the only Easley original on the CD. No reworked classics on this set; just a group of fine musicians getting together for a jam session and Easley getting the job accomplished.
Bill Easley - AS, C, BC, F
George Coleman - TS
Bill Mobley - T, FH
Donald Brown - P
Ron Carter - B
Billy Higgins - D
Rating is based against artist's complete work (1 to 5 stars)