Leroy Williams: Time Is (2004)
At 67, the precocious Leroy Williams is prepared to unleash his talents as a leader on the music world. Williams, a wonderfully melodic drummer who has been playing around New York for decades, always seems to be an important part of someone else's group. Hopefully, this album will alert folks to his talents.
For his debut effort he has assembled a stirling group of people who know how toas the old report card saidplay well with others. Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur (who co-produced the album with Williams), pianist Richard Wyands, and bassist Walter Booker have the ability to listen to each other and interact seamlessly. And while Williams' drums are in the fore, he is his usually generous self, giving more than ample solo space to his sidemen. Ben-Hur's guitar has a strong effect on how themes are stated on the album, allowing Wyands far more freedom than he otherwise would have. It also opens up the range of the music, allowing for higher accents. The overall effect is to lighten the feel of the music, unexpected on a drummer's album. If there is someone who has been taken for granted even more than Williams, it's Wyands, who in recent years has been exhibiting some of his best playing efforts. Booker helps move the music along while never being obvious about it.
Williams playing, as always, is supple and subtle. He never overpowers when using sticks, his brushwork is flawless, and he has a keen appreciation of the drum kit's dynamics. "My Rosita," a laid-back Latin-tinged Williams original, flows effortlessly. It's a catchy tune similar to "Star Eyes" and is subtly addictive: listen to it once, and you'll have a difficult time getting it out of your head. "Just for You," the second Williams original on the album, is a lovely slow ballad that also has the heard-it-somewhere-before quality of a well-crafted tune. Even when playing the John Coltrane barn-burner "Impressions," the musicians don't get carried away with themselves. Williams drives the tune along but never lets the temptation for bombast win out. A tasteful first effort by a deserving youngster for whom I foresee a long and successful career.
Track Listing: 1. Back Home Blues 2. Nutty 3. My Rosita 4. Impressions 5. Just for You 6. Our Delight 7. Back When 8. Milestone
Personnel: Leroy Williams: drums; Richard Wyands: piano; Walter Booker: bass; Ronnie Ben-Hur: guitar.
Record Label: Jazz Child