Bruce Williamson

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One of the benefits of the Origin label is they give exposure to talents deserving of greater recognition, whether they are new up-and-coming artists or veterans like Bruce Williamson. In spite of his contributions as a sideman over several decades with Jack McDuff, Fred Hersch, Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, and Toshiko Akiyoshi (in addition to many others), plus leading his own groups, nearly two decades lapsed before the appearance of this follow-up to his debut recording. Williamson, who is joined by old friend Art Lande on piano, bassist Peter Barshay, and drummer Alan Hall, is a mature player whose experience comes through in his tight, never wasteful solos, though he plays several different instruments. Alto sax is his primary choice, though in his buoyant setting of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" he doubles on bass clarinet in the background. The novel approach to "Just You, Just Me" unfolds as a series of duets by different instruments in pairs. Another surprise is the freewheeling arrangement of "All of Me," which is almost always played as a low-key maudlin ballad, but Williamson reharmonizes it dramatically and plays some wild lines on soprano sax. The leader plays flute in a lyrical treatment of "The Touch of Your Lips"; Lande switches to melodica to back Williamson's alto, giving this normally bittersweet piece a bit of a whimsical air. The sole original is his infectious, bluesy "Large Barge." Hopefully, Bruce Williamson will not need to wait so long to record his third CD as a leader, as this rewarding date merits a prompt follow-up.

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