[ Editor's Note: The following interview is reprinted from George Colligan's blog, Jazztruth]I first heard bassist Buster Williams on a Herbie Hancock recording called VSOP Live (Columbia, 1976). I remember thinking that their version of Hancock's Toys" was pretty wild stuff. In addition to hearing him on some other recordings like Hancock's Sextant (Columbia, 1973)," the group Sphere's Four in One(Elektra/Musician, 1982), or Sarah Vaughan's Sassy Swings The Tivoli (Mercury, 1963), my friend David Ephross and I used to sit around and listen to a recording Williams made as a leader called Something More (In+Out, 19995). Ephross transcribed ...read more
The passing of pianist John Hicks in 2006 marks the loss of one of the quintessential New York pianists. And this, perhaps his last recording, is a stunning example of a fully developed bebop piano trio in flight.
Hicks gained the spotlight working with Art Blakey, Betty Carter and Woody Herman in the 1960s and '70s. He then migrated to avant-garde saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and David Murray before returning to the hard bop sounds of his Keystone Trio (with George Mraz and Idris Muhammad) and Power Trio (with Elvin Jones and Cecil McBee). In the 1990s he could ...read more
All great jazz essentially tells the same story: This is what it's like to be alive, right here, right now. First-call bass vet Buster Williams' latest disc, Griot Libertè, while no exception, tells an additional one: he loves his wife. Using her recovery from a serious illness as a jumping off point, Williams leads a crack quartet with vibraphonist Stefon Harris, pianist George Colligan, and drummer Lenny White through a post bop program of six excellent self-penned originals and two standards: Cole Porter's atypical Everytime We Say Goodbye (reharmonized) and Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, which Williams tackles (beautifully) as ...read more
The instrumental lineup may mimic the Modern Jazz Quartet and, to be sure, Buster Williams' choice of vibes as the other front-line instrument was so that he could similarly express a certain softness in [the] music." But that's where the comparison ends. Griot Libertè may also swing on the light side like MJQ, but the musical choices are far more weighty.
Opening with the modal workout Nomads," Williams is quick to establish his dark and meaty tone, placed high in the mix yet surprisingly never overpowering; while Williams is willing and capable of using his instrument to define the groove ...read more
Skim Coat brings together three highly compatible players: Billy Childs (piano), Buster Williams (bass) and Carl Allen (drums). It’s a thoughtful but accessible modern jazz album--the perfect accompaniment to a pot of coffee and the Sunday newspaper.Metropolitan Records owner Stan Chovnick recruited this trio on the strength of its performance at a 1998 jazz educators conference in New York. A year later the educators were still buzzing about the band's appearance in the Big Apple, and it's easy to hear why. These three players share a special chemistry.Childs’playing is often compared to Herbie Hancock’s, but the ...read more
One of the great losses to jazz is that Herbie Hancock's 1970-73 Mwandishi band could not have been as profitable as it was protean, progressive and ever too-briefly productive. Launched from the spaces that fostered Bitches Brew, Hancock introduced elements of both the avant-garde and soul jazz to create a groove that was as unusual and provocative in sound as it was striking in its musical excellence.Hancock's young sextet was utterly prepared to traverse and unite such opposing climes too. In an era that produced stacks of mind-numbing fusion, Hancock delivered the very few notable jazz statements of ...read more
Half of Sphere. One of the Two Sphere discs on RED Records is Pumpkins Delight: Sphere Live At Umbria Jazz (CD 123207). July 14, 1986 at the Umbria Jazz Festival. Included in this set were as series of duets by pianist Kenny Barron and Bassist Buster Williams. The result is a collection of music every bit as exciting as Pumpkins Delight. The stand out on the previous Sphere discs was Buster Williams and he is no less of a stand out here.
The piano trio is a hard enough forum in which to perform, but take away the percussive timekeeper, ...read more