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The title of pianist James Williams 1992 recording with tenor saxophonists George Coleman, Joe Henderson and Billy Pierce is James Williams Meets The Saxophone Masters (DIW/Columbia). This millenium, the designation “master” certainly belongs to Williams. The Memphis born musician was raised on Gospel and R&B, but soon turned to the music of the hometown pianists Harold Mabern and Phineas Newborn for jazz inspiration. He did an extended stint as Art Blakey’s pianist (1977-81). After leaving the Messengers he began the Magic Trio, recording with Ray Brown and Art Blakey. Elvin Jones replace Blakey for number two, the he tried two young(er) cats in Charnett Moffett and Tain Watts, for three. He has also created two ambitious projects: The Contemporary Piano Ensemble, which recorded four pianists, Harold Mabern, Mulgrew Miller, Geoff Keezer, and Williams in tribute to Phineas Newborn and his I.C.U., a jazz Gospel band that blends the sacred with the secular for some moving music.
This reunion of The Magic Trio finds Williams reunited with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Elvin Jones. Recorded ten years after the trio’s initial session, the ten tracks elicit a wow factor reserved usually for the likes of Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones. James Williams, like the aforementioned peers, speaks the language of the modern mainstream piano. Working with the hall-of-fame Brown and Jones, Williams chose classic composers, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Sonny Rollins, and Thad Jones, as the common ground for the band’s interplay. As there is no competition between musicians, the session acts as a loving reunion of three master musicians.
Track List:It’s Alright With Me; Quietude; Time After Time; Lonely Moments; Somebody Loves Me; Give Me The Simple Life; Sophisticated Lady; Go Tell It To The Mountain; Sweet And Lovely; Sonnymoon For Two.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.