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The William Thomas Ensemble: Notes From A Drummer

Mark F. Turner By

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The William Thomas Ensemble: Notes From  A Drummer Drummer William Thomas gives a potent glimpse into the hotbed of jazz talent in Portland, Oregon. His first recording, Notes From A Drummer , consists of music written, arranged, and composed for his ensemble. The themes on the recording range from bop and swing to playful and intricate ballads with an emphasis on strong ensemble dynamics.

The tone of the recording brings to mind the great Cannonball Adderly circa 1970. Thomas's compositional prowess takes the center stage, in contrast to the usual drummer-led recordings which feature the drummer's playing in the spotlight. The horn section consists of alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones with trumpet. The piano and rhythm section complete the ensemble which features strong contributions from all players. The group has clearly gelled into a tight unit in which Thomas is able to state his musical expressions.

The diversity of selections by Thomas also warrants musical interest. The post bop vibe comes to the forefront on the opening selection “Bye- Bye Now” with progressive solos wrapped around a groove oriented theme. The cool number “Steatopygic Nightmare” expresses complicated patterns with full bodied horns and twisting swing action. Thomas reveals a passion for mixing jazz and Spanish styles on “Tango Del Perdido” and “Feliz Aniversario Mi Vida,” which highlights nice sax and baritone solos. His approach to the drums varies according to the composition; he discreetly shines on the melancholy “After Francke” and the odd tempo cooker “ Say ... You Guys Improvise Anything?” All in all, Notes From A Drummer reveals the inner workings of a seasoned drummer who clearly has much to say.

Track Listing: 1. Bye-Bye Now 2. Valse Rosmaree 3. Steatopygic Nightmare 4. Tango del Perdido 5. Feliz Aniversario Mi Vida 6. Moaning/Bhomaz Squad 7. Illegal Death 8. After Francke 9. Crazy for K.Z. 10. End of a Love Affair 11. Remembrances 12. Say...You Guys Improvising Anything? 13. Escapee

Personnel: William Thomas, Jr. - drums; Dick Titterington - Trumpet; Tom Wakeling - bass; John Gross - Sax (Tenor); Troy Grugett - Sax (Baritone); Randy Porter - Piano; Warren Rand - Sax (Alto)

Year Released: 2003 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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