It was easy to see why bassist Ben Williams’s debut CD State of Art made such a splash. It had a deserved buzz around a rising talent, and remains a primer for how to make a modern jazz record.
Since then, besides heavy side-gigging and touring with his band as Ben Williams and Sound Effect (Christian Sands, Marcus Strickland, Matthew Stevens, and John Davis), the 30-year-old had a key role in the Pat Metheny Unity Group. The band played over 150 shows internationally in 2013, which is a lot of experience in a compressed time frame.
So it’s not surprising that his follow-up CD, Coming of Age, is a rush of pleasure from beginning to end.
A taste of the new Ben Williams CD, Coming of Age:
The highly-disciplined Williams, a Juilliard graduate and winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition, weds fresh jazz to pop and R&B on seriously engaging tunes that hum and heave from his nimble bass whether he’s on acoustic or electric. The record is backboned by tracks that electrify (“Strength and Beauty”) and groove (“Half Steppin’”), yet his vocal collaborations with soul singer Goapele (“Voice of Freedom”) and a reprise of a track called “Toy Soldiers” with rap/spoken-word artist W. Ellington Felton satisfy the de rigueur groove revivalism and album’s crossover appeal.
Instrumentals like “Black Villain Music” and the sweet gloss of strings and muted trumpet by guest Christian Scott on “Lost And Found” will satisfy on multiple spins, but it’s the keyed-up guitar solos, funky electric piano, sonorous sax, and wicked beats that give Coming of Age its more-than-just-jazz appeal.
It’s a contagious hang, fueled by virtuosity and vision along with Williams’s canny sense of music-making.
Even if you don't know anything about jazz, it's quite possible you've heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington: That's him on the latest albums by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. But that's only the very tip of his iceberg.
Join us from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25 during jazz hours as we remember those who fought for our country by presenting jazz performed by United States military bands. Jeff Duperon kicks off the festivities on Friday, May 22nd at 6 pm with music from The West Point Jazz Knights, the U.S. Army Blues, and many other military bands, old and new. This music continues all weekend long, until the Hot 11 Countdown kicks off at 10:30 pm on Monday.
It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.
For the final week of Jazz Appreciation Month, we're presenting our favorite hidden gems from our jazz library. Join us at 7 pm, 9:30 pm, 12:30 am and 5:30 am as we uncover these precious pieces, and tell you why they are so special to us. Bob Perkins, Zivit, Jeff Duperon, Maureen Malloy, Bob Craig and J. Michael Harrison have had a blast featuring their favorites for you this April. Please continue to tune into the station that appreciates jazz every month!
1. Bob Perkins: Patrick Williams Big Band - Mandeville - Aurora
Jazz Appreciation Month continues on WRTI! During the week of April 6th, 2015, we're sharing our favorite vintage jazz recordings. Tune in to hear top favorites from Bob Perkins, Jeff Duperon, Zivit, J. Michael Harrison, Bob Craig, and Maureen Malloy throughout the week at 7 pm, 9:30 pm, 12:30 am and 5:30 am.
Listen to our hosts discuss their vintage jazz favorites below.
1. Bob Perkins: Modern Jazz Quartet - "Django" - Django
Tap dancer Pam Hetherington says tap can be the visual representation of any kind of music. And jazz tap provides the opportunity for the dancer to reflect the emotions and story inspired by a live jazz combo. A choreographer and a teacher, she says she’s obsessed with tap’s percussive possibilities: hard-driving, soft and sweet, and in between.
Be sure to listen to WRTI between 9 pm and midnight on March 23rd through the 25th for your chance to win tickets to see acclaimed pianist Jason Moran and his band, The Bandwagon, perform at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on Sunday, March 29th at 7:30 pm. J. Michael Harrison and Bob Craig will present excerpts of a recent interview with Jason Moran, and they'll give away passes to this much-anticipated show.
WRTI's Jeff Duperon takes you to the 2015 Winter Jazzfest in New York City. He'll be tweeting from January 8 - 10 while taking in the sights and sounds of this annual jazz marathon, which started in 2005 and is still going strong.