Classically trained pianist and composer Michael Williams returns with his sophomore release Wet
, a nicely varied set of modern jazz originals. Williams is truly forging his own highly original voice here, both in terms of composition and playing style; comparisons to other more familiar artists are hard to come by. The sound is primarily acoustic, albeit with electric guitar and bass. It's a nice blend of classic, contemporary, and Latin jazz, and you'll hear the influence of Williams' classical training at times as well. Williams has assembled a good supporting cast - a group with the rather odd name 1 40 4 20. They are versatile enough to handle all the different styles and unusual song structures that Williams throws their way, and turn in decent solos to boot. Guitarist Brian Levan and saxophonist Jonathan Moritz, in particular, impress.
Two guest stars lend their talents to broaden the group's reach. Saxophonist Bob Sheppard, who is highly in demand these days performing with Chick Corea, Joni Mitchell, and Steely Dan, enlivens "Black Lies" and the romantic "I've Cried My Last Tear." Violinist Harry Scorzo from the Latin group "Bongo Logic" expresses sensitivity on the ballad "Nocturne," then turns up the heat on the driving, fusionistic closer "Green Chrome."
Also check out the group's debut, Jazz Trespassers. (Pocket Jazz 86519 10022)
Personnel: Michael Williams - piano; Brian Levan - guitars; Marcus Konantz - bass; Dave Lotfi - drums; Jonathan Moritz, Bob Sheppard - saxophones; Harry Scorzo - violin; Ronnie Gutierrez - percussion.