BUSTER WILLIAMS - AUDACITY - Jazzmessengers blog
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It’s often the successful jazz bassist’s lot to have a stellar list of former collaborators, yet be known in his own right to just a few connoisseurs. Go to the biography section of Buster Williams’s website and you’ll find a who’s who of giants with whom he has worked, from Miles Davis to Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker to Sarah Vaughan, most far more famous than he is, no matter the value of their endorsement.

Fourteen years after his last release as a leader, Buster Williams doesn’t attempt to rewrite any rules on Audacity. The 76-year-old bassist simply went into the studio with his long-running quartet, Something More, with alto and soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist George Colligan, and drummer Lenny White, to cut a handful of original tunes, six by himself and one each from the others. Williams has composed most of the music and drives the quartet, but the saxophonist Steve Wilson and the pianist George Colligan are given most of the solos. It’s called Audacity, but Williams is as gracious as he is audacious. It pays off with a joint effort that’s passionate and pure, but still personal.

Sudden tempo changes are navigated effortlessly in the Spanish-styled Song of the Outcasts. It starts as a sinister flamenco with Wilson’s soprano sax curling round Lenny White’s sensual percussion. Military drums agitate Corrigan’s ominous piano, then Wilson returns for a free-jazz blast. Elsewhere, Triumph is a brooding ballad with funk tinctures that are ramped up to intensify the soaring solos.

There’s plenty of intense swing too. Where Giants Dwell is a storming hard-bop tune with a Wayne Shorterish feel, especially in its loose, freeform diversions. Wilson plays as if on a crusade into the unknown, pursued by a frenzy of jumbled notes and fierce block chords from Corrigan. It ends with the title track, a modal marvel that has the whole band swaggering.

“You’ve got to have audacity to do what we do,” Buster explains. “You have to have audacity to even want to do what we do, to even imagine that it’s all going to work. I was looking for a word that could encapsulate all of my feelings and concepts and, at this moment in time, Audacity is the description of my life.”

There are few jazz groups working today with the creative skill and brilliance of Something More and Audacity captures all four musicians at their very best.

A word about Smoke Sessions Records (SSR). SSR is the house label of Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in New York City where jazz artists have played for many years. SSR has been affectionately and expertly capturing crystal-clear recordings of today’s jazz masters. The SSR label designates a level of excellence that jazz fans can count on. All of their releases are highly recommended.

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