C.I. Williams

When Alto Was King

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This is journeyman alto saxophonist C.I. Williams' first album as a leader in 25 years. Essentially a swing player with deep roots in the blues, Williams has a rich, languorous tone reminiscent of Johnny Hodges. This is most evident on a handful of straight-out blues, including two originals and the Ellington/Hodges classic "Jeep's Blues." Williams receives excellent support here from veterans like Keter Betts, Jimmy Cobb, Ed Cherry, and Larry Willis. Although the song selection skews toward the too-familiar -- "Misty," "Round Midnight," "Lover Man," "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" -- this superb-sounding album is a fitting showcase for Williams' alto talents.

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