James Williams

Maybeck Recital Hall Series, Vol. 42

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This is Vol. 42 of the exhaustive Maybeck Recital Hall project, the last one that the late Concord founder Carl Jefferson set up and reportedly the final installment in the series (the hall has since changed ownership). Of course it must be a coincidence (or is it?) that much of Williams' recital sounds like an affectionate farewell to the room, as most of the selections are taken at ballad tempo with nostalgic harmonies in the left hand. Indeed, the program closes with what could be interpreted as a benediction, a 12½-minute "Spiritual Medley" where Williams reveals his deep gospel roots at often eloquent length. Otherwise, Williams pretty much divides its time between pop and jazz standards and semi-standards, with the opening "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" setting the elegiac mood. The program does have its athletic moments -- Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge" is a jagged bit of work, and so is "Blues Etude" -- yet in essence, this CD is a pleasing, often reflective possible capstone to the long Maybeck project.

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