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Al Williams Jazz Society: Let's Celebrate

Jim Santella By

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When was the last time you heard "Cristo Redentor?" Al Williams has included this classic tune on his album for old times' sake, since it's his unofficial theme song. Recorded live at the Long Beach Jazz Festival, the piece features Nolan Shaheed, Herman Riley, Nedra Wheeler and Bobby Lyle with soulful interpretations. While there is no gospel choir to fill in, the piece draws inspired solo work and produces a comfortable blend. What a pleasant surprise. Al Williams has produced the Long Beach Jazz Festival for quite some time. This album documents several sessions from the annual event.

A tribute to Willie Bobo features saxophonist Charles Owens, trumpeter Shaheed and vibraphonist Roy Ayers. In jazz festival fashion, the ensemble opts for extended solo play, allowing each artist plenty of time to stretch out. A tribute to Eddie Harris features trumpeter Shaheed, saxophonist Herman Riley, trombonist Wayne Henderson and pianist Larry Nash. Williams drives each unit with energy. Much of the album takes on a Jazz Crusaders aura, which makes a strong impression on the festival audience. Members of The Crusaders, after all, have been guests at the annual event. The Al Williams Jazz Society appears year after year at the Long Beach festival and offers the fans a soulful good time. Their album makes a great souvenir of those pleasant memories.


Track Listing: Shakey Jake; One for Willie; Norwegian Eyes; Mama Leila; Cristo Redentor; Things Ain't What They Used To Be; Super Blue; Like Eddie.

Personnel: Al Williams- drums; Nolan Shaheed- trumpet, cornet; Wayne Henderson- trombone; Charles Owens, Herman Riley- tenor saxophone; Henry Franklin- bass, Nedra Wheeler- bass; Bobby Pierce, Dave Bradshaw, Bobby Lyle, Larry Nash; Roy Ayers- vibraphone on "One for Willie;" Poncho Sanchez- congas on "One for Willie;" Barbara Morrison- vocal on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be."

Title: Let's Celebrate | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Blue Lady Records


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