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.
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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.

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