Jeff Williams is one of the great jazz drummers working today. Although he is a veteran, I think he is Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. Originally from Ohio, he's been in London, England for the better part of a decade. He played with many of the greats back in the 70's and 80's. He had regular stints with Stan Getz, Dave Liebman and Lee Konitz, and did a great deal of touring in Europe. Now he is spending much of his time teaching at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Birmingham Conservatoire. He's also working on the London scene, and keeps in touch with the New York scene. Williams is one of the drummers who in some ways is very traditional (he was a student of Alan Dawson in Boston) but uses that traditional foundation as a jumping off point for expansive musical explorations.(I think of drummers in the same category like Billy Hart or Jeff Hirshfield, two other guys who don't get nearly enough recognition.)
Case in point: "Another Time" is Williams' latest album, and it's anything but traditional, although it is acoustic jazz. But it's quite adventurous and interactive. Williams used what he calls his "steady" band:
"Search Me" begins, as it should,with a definitive drum solo, which is parts Max Roach and parts Roy Haynes, and all Jeff Williams. The horns seem to float over a
"Fez" is a real tricky one; a nasty bass line with an obviously Arabic sounding melody. Ah, they do break into swing! This reminds me of Wayne Shorter's writing for some reason, where some of the themes are sort of literally programmatic (like the two note phrases of the melody to "Footprints" are apparently supposed to represent the steps of a monster.)
"Another Time" reminds me of some of Tony Williams' writing from the 80's. It begins with bowed bass and short phrases from the horns. But it ends up as a light straight eight/ boss kind of vibe. It's a very mature way to end the album. The whole recording has a compelling sound-very open and at times ghostly, but rhythmically and harmonically open to any possibility. You can find this CD on Whirlwind Recordings(www.whirlwindrecordings.com), as well as itunes. Also, check out Jeff Williams website(www.willfulmusic.com). I know this CD was a long time coming and I look forward to hearing more from this gem of a band.