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The Willie Williams Trio: Comet Ride

Jim Santella By

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To this program of eight original compositions, saxophonist Willie Williams adds a medley of two tunes each by Eddie Harris and Jimmy Heath as well as a closing romp on the ever-faithful "Caravan." His combination of fresh originals and familiar standards gives this trio album its vitality, demonstrating a love for past generations of the jazz canon as well as for future legions. Known in New York for his work with drummer Arthur Taylor and as a member of TS Monk's ensemble, Williams loves the musical colloquy, a conversation between two persons who share common ground. Bassist Gary Wang enjoys several such excursions with him, sharing life's lessons as they come to mind. The trio (with drummer Rudy Walker) remains spontaneous throughout the program; however, each selection is founded upon a specific impression: "Philly Syndrome" looks at the city where Williams grew up; "Mo' Grits" looks back at the North Carolina area where he was born and the title track gets very spaced-out in its translation.

Comet Ride is Williams' fifth CD as leader. While tenor saxophone appears to be his primary choice, he moves seamlessly between tenor and soprano and even plays them simultaneously on "Freedom Jazz Dance." His full tenor tone gives the session plenty of power to back up his ideas and he likes to experiment as much as time permits. His soliloquies march forward triumphantly and his conversations bring out the best from his trio. They agree on everything, including the details of balance. A standard reading of "Caravan" endears Williams to the hearts of jazz's conservative faction, while unique features throughout serve as earmarks of what can be.

Track Listing: Comet Ride; Tenor Ballet; I'm Misunderstood; Three Generations; Leprechaun;s Dance; Changes of Heart; Freedom Suite: Freedom Jazz Dance, Gingerbread Boy, C.T.A, Freedom Jazz Dance Reprise; Mo' Grits; Philly Syndrome; Caravan.

Personnel: Willie Williams: tenor and soprano saxes; Gary Wang: bass; Rudy Walker: drums.

Title: Comet Ride | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Miles High Records

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