JAZZ NIGHT OUT: BEN WILLIAMS and SOUND EFFECT


Gig photos by me. Click on them to embiggen!

Bassist Ben Williams has hit the heights. Since winning the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition he has joined the roster at Concord Records, which released his debut CD (State Of Art) last year, and landed high profile gigs on George Benson’s Guitar Man, as well as being a part of Pat Metheny’s new Unity Band. That new album features a quartet that includes saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Not only am I anticipating a terrific recording, it’s the first time in more than 30 years that Metheny has included a tenor player in his front line (remember 80/81 with Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker?)

In March, I was in Los Angeles for the first time visiting my niece on spring break and while looking for some music to hear, see that Williams was touring in support of his record with an appearance scheduled at The Blue Whale – I was so there!  For those that know LA, it took me over an hour from my hotel in Westwood to get to the club in the Little Tokyo neighborhood.













In LA, Williams featured a stripped down band, a lean and mean groove-centric quartet called Sound Effect. SE features Philly saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, drummer John Davis and the marvelous, young pianist Christian Sands. And they delivered a groove bomb when I heard them.

The club was packed, the band was feeding off the vibe and they delivered the goods. Highlighting tracks off the album, Williams played his original tunes, “Home,” Dawn Of A New Day, “November” and a gorgeous cover by the soul singer Goapele (who was in the audience.)  Shaw was spotlighted on soprano and alto saxophone, blowing hard and keeping the audience rapt with his sinuous solos. At 22, Sands is something of a prodigy, composing since he was 5, and currently a master of jazz, blues and Latin rhythms that players like Christian McBride have noticed. Here, he played in a modern style, with some choice percussive chords that echoed Red Garland – in other words, he’s easy to appreciate and made it happen throughout the set. Williams and drummer Davis got “Dawn” off to a percolating start complete with a “Poinciana” lilt and the tune delivered an extended Williams solo that made us all understand his particular language on the bass. He’s super articulate, tuneful and uber-cool. Having had a chance to speak with him before this show and on one earlier occasion, it’s clear that this likeable young cat’s personality flows through his instrument. His sound makes every listener feel welcome and “State Of Art” is an ideal recording to share with anyone into modern jazz that's painted with soul and R&B.

Courtesy of Concord Record
GO HEAR 'EM IN NYC:  Williams and Sound Effect are scheduled to play at Smalls Jazz Club on Wednesday, June 13 in Greenwich Village (10th Street at 7th Avenue.) www.smallsjazzclub.com 

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JAZZ IN SPACE: JAZZ NIGHT OUT: BEN WILLIAMS and SOUND EFFECT

Friday, June 1, 2012

JAZZ NIGHT OUT: BEN WILLIAMS and SOUND EFFECT


Gig photos by me. Click on them to embiggen!

Bassist Ben Williams has hit the heights. Since winning the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition he has joined the roster at Concord Records, which released his debut CD (State Of Art) last year, and landed high profile gigs on George Benson’s Guitar Man, as well as being a part of Pat Metheny’s new Unity Band. That new album features a quartet that includes saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Not only am I anticipating a terrific recording, it’s the first time in more than 30 years that Metheny has included a tenor player in his front line (remember 80/81 with Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker?)

In March, I was in Los Angeles for the first time visiting my niece on spring break and while looking for some music to hear, see that Williams was touring in support of his record with an appearance scheduled at The Blue Whale – I was so there!  For those that know LA, it took me over an hour from my hotel in Westwood to get to the club in the Little Tokyo neighborhood.













In LA, Williams featured a stripped down band, a lean and mean groove-centric quartet called Sound Effect. SE features Philly saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, drummer John Davis and the marvelous, young pianist Christian Sands. And they delivered a groove bomb when I heard them.

The club was packed, the band was feeding off the vibe and they delivered the goods. Highlighting tracks off the album, Williams played his original tunes, “Home,” Dawn Of A New Day, “November” and a gorgeous cover by the soul singer Goapele (who was in the audience.)  Shaw was spotlighted on soprano and alto saxophone, blowing hard and keeping the audience rapt with his sinuous solos. At 22, Sands is something of a prodigy, composing since he was 5, and currently a master of jazz, blues and Latin rhythms that players like Christian McBride have noticed. Here, he played in a modern style, with some choice percussive chords that echoed Red Garland – in other words, he’s easy to appreciate and made it happen throughout the set. Williams and drummer Davis got “Dawn” off to a percolating start complete with a “Poinciana” lilt and the tune delivered an extended Williams solo that made us all understand his particular language on the bass. He’s super articulate, tuneful and uber-cool. Having had a chance to speak with him before this show and on one earlier occasion, it’s clear that this likeable young cat’s personality flows through his instrument. His sound makes every listener feel welcome and “State Of Art” is an ideal recording to share with anyone into modern jazz that's painted with soul and R&B.

Courtesy of Concord Record
GO HEAR 'EM IN NYC:  Williams and Sound Effect are scheduled to play at Smalls Jazz Club on Wednesday, June 13 in Greenwich Village (10th Street at 7th Avenue.) www.smallsjazzclub.com 

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