James Williams

Jazz Dialogues, Vol. 4: Music for a While

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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden

The final volume of James Williams' four-CD series Jazz Dialogues is every bit as ambitious as the earlier three. Once again drawing from sessions recorded with a host of guests over a two-month stretch, the veteran pianist and his friends deliver one inspired performance after another. His sizzling exploration of Freddie Hubbard's "Thermo" reveal a master and an upcoming master in full flight, while the seasoned bassist Rufus Reid proves himself also at home with the former church pianist in "Walk with Me." Alto saxophonist Steve Wilson devours Williams' upbeat "Old Times Sake" whole, as he was a frequent collaborator with him over the years. Houston Person, Joe Lovano, Mary Stallings, Dave Stryker, and Kim Nalley also give outstanding performances. To wrap the series with an unusual twist, Williams chose Baroque composer Henry Purcell's "Music for a While" to feature vocalists Roger Holland and Terry Trotter together for the only trio piece of the entire series; the vocalists make a powerful team on this stunning finale. The world of jazz was robbed of James Williams' immense gifts following his unsuccessful battle with liver cancer less than a year after this CD series was issued by the pianist, though each volume serves as a significant reminder of his many musical contributions.

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