CD Review: Ben Williams "Coming of Age"

The ascent of Ben Williams as a doubler, composer, bandleader, and artist continues with his superb sophomore effort.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

The ascent of Ben Williams as a doubler, composer, bandleader, and artist continues with his superb sophomore effort. The twisty opener “Black Villain Music” rides a rangy ostinato and corresponding drum groove, while “Strength and Beauty” offers a fresh take on 6/8 meets 2/4 (with a stirring upright solo). Williams’ wiry electric bass makes its debut via the swung funk of “Half Steppin’,” traversing the descending changes effortlessly and adding convulsive, conversational support behind the soloists. He remains on bass guitar for the melodic subhook behind Goapele’s vocals on “Voice of Freedom.” And so it goes: superior swing on the Trane-ish title track; fretless-led balladry on “The Color of Dreams”; fresh groove creation with drummer John Davis on “Forecast”; memorable writing on “Toy Soldier”—all capped by a thoroughly brilliant solo-upright rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Coming of age? Ben Williams’ time is now.

Related

CD Review: Nir Felder "Golden Age"

Well-assisted by Gotham upright ace Matt Penman, pianist Aaron Parks, and drummer Nate Smith, rising N.Y.C. guitar supernova Nir Felder delivers a dazzling debut, establishing a musical voice as distinctive as the dirty tone of his $250 Strat.

CD Review: "Jeff Sipe Trio"

The veteran Atlanta drummer/bandleader (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jonas Hellborg) fronts his head-turning new Southern fuze unit, with nimble neophytes Taylor Lee on 6-string bass and Mike Seal on guitar.

CD Review: Hiromi "Alive"

Having made three recordings and played countless concerts with Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips, gifted piano goddess Hiromi set out to capture the super-trio’s live spontaneity and vivacity on her latest studio effort.