James Williams Sextet

Progress Report

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James Williams' second and last recording for Sunnyside includes several veterans of Art Blakey's bands, including the pianist/leader, saxophonist Billy Pierce, and guitarist Kevin Eubanks. Rounding out the sextet is alto saxophonist Bill Easley, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Tony Reedus (Williams' nephew, a talented musician in his own right). The leader's thunderous post-bop vehicle "Progress Report" proves to be a driving opener, with strong solos by Pierce, Easley (on clarinet) and Eubanks. Williams' haunting "Mr. Day's Dream" is an infectious waltz with lush ensembles, with Easley carrying the theme on flute. Eubanks contributed the furious, constantly shifting "Unconscious Behavior," though it is the leader who really wails in this track. Conga player Jerry Gonzalez is added for the infectious Latin strut "Scenes from a Village Dance" (composed by another Blakey alum, pianist Donald Brown. Two tracks were added from Williams' earlier Sunnyside LP Alter Ego in the CD reissue of Progress Report, though Alter Ego was eventually released in complete form. Sadly, even the CD edition of Progress Report has long been out of print, so fans of the late James Williams will want to pick this one up before it disappears for good.

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