404

The Howard Williams Big Band: Live at the Garage

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Here's an interesting big band release that features some rather spirited blowing and a quite appropriate title. If someone had asked me, sight unseen, where it was recorded, I'd have said, "Probably in a garage. And so it was, hence the name Live at the Garage, which is apparently a nightspot on New York City's Seventh Avenue. More's the pity, as the band—what one can hear of it—is reasonably sharp, boasting a number of local heavyweights in the starting lineup, such as veteran tenor saxophonist Frank Vicari who earned his stripes with Maynard Ferguson's irrepressible juggernauts from the mid-'60s. Others whose names may ring a bell include trumpeters John Eckert, Danny Hayes, and Bill Mobley; alto saxophonist Todd Bashore; and former DIVA stalwarts Virginia Mayhew (tenor) and Karolina Strassmayer (alto).

The leader/pianist is Howard Williams, who obviously has worked hard to put together a respectable ensemble. The ebullience and—unfortunately—the sound (trumpets in particular) are reminiscent of recordings made by the Chubby Jackson Big Band in the late '40s, as is a sizable slice of the material, with vintage compositions by Tadd Dameron, Benny Golson, Ellington/Strayhorn, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk and Thad Jones rubbing shoulders with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive, Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley's "Who Can I Turn To?, T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday and a pair of originals by Williams, "Walter's Tune (co-written with Walter Norris) and "Little Ham Hock.

Hayes is showcased on "Who Can I Turn To?, the moral of which could well be "never try to play a ballad in a crowded garage. He does his best to be heard above the ambient noise, as does vocalist Jan Findlay who bravely carries on the tradition of blues singers Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey and others on "Stormy Monday and Ellington's "Strange Feeling. Vicari, sounding as nimble and chipper as ever, frames a number of likable solos, sharing honors in that department with Hayes, Strassmayer, Mayhew, Bashore, baritone Lou Caputo, trombonists Don Mikkelson and Roy Agee, and trumpeters Mobley (noticeably off-mic) and Jon Owens. The solo order isn't always accurate, and there are a number of spelling errors on the hand-written tray.

To sum up as clearly as possible, in words of one syllable—good band, poor sound. I've heard that Williams plans soon to record a second album (if he hasn't already done so). When that happens, the hope is that he will move the enterprise from garage to living room, or at least to the patio.


Track Listing: If You Could See Me Now; How Insensitive; Stormy Monday; Fair Weather; Who Can I Turn To?; Walter

Personnel: Howard Williams: leader, piano. Tracks 1,2,4-6,8,9,11 -- Todd Bashore: alto, soprano sax, flute; Karolina Strassmayer: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Frank Vicari: tenor sax, flute; Virginia Mayhew: tenor, soprano sax, clarinet; Lou Caputo: baritone sax, bass clarinet; John Eckert, Jon Owens, Danny Hayes, Bill Mobley: trumpet; Bob Suttmann, Roy Agee, Don Mikkelsen: trombone; Max Siegel: bass trombone; Roy Cumming: bass; Rudy Petschauer: drums. Tracks 3,10 -- John Simon: tenor sax, for Mayhew; Joe Grandsen: trumpet, for Eckert; Brad Schmidt: trombone, for Agee; Dale Turk: bass trombone, for Siegel; Eliot Zigmund: drums, for Petschauer; Jan Findlay (3): vocal. Track 7 -- Jeff Burke: alto sax, for Bashore; Mike Karn: tenor sax, for Mayhew; Steve Wiseman, John Hines, Kurt Weiss: trumpet, for Eckert, Owens, Hayes; Brad Schmidt: trombone, for Mikkelsen; Findlay: vocal.

Title: Live at the Garage | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: HW Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "Cultural Capital" CD/LP/Track Review Cultural Capital
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 17, 2017
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.