Saxophonist Willie Akins and his quartet play straight ahead jazz with plenty of heart. Their Alima is a satisfying performance by a group of musicians who display a chemistry that could only arise out of the mutual respect of attentive listening.
Akins plays a warm tenor, at times reminiscent of Hank Mobley and early John Coltrane. Drummer Montez Coleman is a shaker and mover in this band, his playing sometimes taking the form of an upbeat dialog with Akins. He is an imaginative and versatile musician. Pianist Simon Rowe and bassist Willem von Hombracht are both subtle accompanists. The interaction of Hombracht’s deep, earthy bass and Coleman’s cymbal and snare work is continually interesting. Rowe is a thoughtful musician who in addition to being a good soloist seems to have an almost intuitive rapport with Akins.
This is a solid group from the St. Louis area that plays in the grand tradition of small group jazz of the 1950’s and the 1960’s. Repeated listening to this understated performance is evidence enough that this is a quartet to keep an eye/ear on. These guys play beautifully together, and the lead soloist Akins plays with a keen sense of drama. Good stuff.
Tracks:Theme For Oliver; Just One More Chance; Alima; C.T.A.: Summertime; Hey Baby; Beatrice; You Taught My Heart To Sing; Time Was; Estate; Pretty Eyes. (68:31)
Personnel: Willie Akins, tenor saxophone; Simon Rowe, piano; Willem von Hombracht, bass; Montez Coleman, drums.
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I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.