110

Greg Williamson & the Big Bad Groove Society: Swing Your Big Head

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
When one has no idea what to envision, what ensues can sometimes be a pleasant surprise - which is exactly the case with drummer Greg Williamson's new release, Swing Your Big Head. From the instrumentation and (some) song titles, I was half expecting to hear a Dixieland group. What I heard instead was a pretty competent mainstream sextet from the Seattle area whose program gives new meaning to the word "eclectic." There are eight compositions by Williamson, two by Greg Schroeder, others by Miles Davis, Billy Strayhorn, Thad Jones, Hank Mobley and Ed Heyman/Victor Young (the lone standard, "When I Fall in Love"). Williamson's notion is to paint "sound pictures" (a frenetic Harlem jam session in "Duke's Jungle," a strident street scene "Outside N'Orleans," an intriguing circus "Sideshow," the "fractured" fairy tale "Ode to Three Mice Without Tails"), and he succeeds admirably in doing so within a Jazz framework (the familiar "Three Blind Mice," played as a dirge, is especially effective with the horns scurrying blindly to and fro in the middle as they are chased by the butcher's drums - er, feet). The closer, "Willy Ride," a funky shuffle, embodies a hint of "Try to Remember" from the legendary off-Broadway production, The Fantasticks. While Williamson and his colleagues aren't "name" players, they are very good ones - you need only listen to the more familiar numbers ("Dig," "Lush Life," Three and One," "Out of Joe's Bag," "When I Fall in Love"), on which comparisons to others are perhaps more easily drawn, to confirm that. The playing is first-class, and Williamson's colorful charts are right on the money. Any doubts about pianist Fuller's ability are swiftly erased on "Willy's Ballad," which he plays unaccompanied. Fuller then sparkles as brightly on the up-tempo intro to "Baby Weener Dog Walk," whose unusual title masks a headlong Woody Herman-like groove on which everyone swings like crazy. The front-liners - Mazzio, Dickerson and Marcus - are consistently sharp and engaging, as is the rhythm section of Fuller, Holloway and Williamson. Although an audience was present for the recording session, they applaud only once, after "Out of Joe's Bag." Guess they couldn't help themselves. As for me, I was applauding (silently) after every number. A pleasant surprise? Yes indeed. It's gratifying to hear ensembles of this caliber bearing the modern Jazz torch in Seattle or anywhere else.


Track Listing:

Dig; Rose Hips; Duke's Jungle; Outside N'Orleans; Sideshow; Lush Life; Jazz March; Ode to Three Mice Without Tails; Three and One; Ricky's Manhattan Mambo Calypso; Out of Joe's Bag; Willy's Ballad; Baby Weener Dog Walk; When I Fall in Love; Willy Ride (66:28).

Personnel:

Paul Mazzio, trumpet, flugelhorn; Bryan Dickerson, tenor, alto saxophones; Dan Marcus, trombone, double bell euphonium; Larry Fuller, piano; Larry Holloway, acoustic bass; Greg Williamson, drums/music.

| Record Label: Pony Boy Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Finding Love in an Oligarchy on a Dying Planet" CD/LP/Track Review Finding Love in an Oligarchy on a Dying Planet
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: March 23, 2016
Read "Prospect" CD/LP/Track Review Prospect
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 13, 2016
Read "Enter the PlusTet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the PlusTet
by Troy Collins
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Big Wheel Live" CD/LP/Track Review Big Wheel Live
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Spring Feelings" CD/LP/Track Review Spring Feelings
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "Choice" CD/LP/Track Review Choice
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!