William Thomas

Notes from a Drummer

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As with many of the artists on Seattle's Origin label, William Thomas is an excellent jazz drummer. Here on his debut as a leader, the Portland native spends an hour of quality time with his set, but more important to the album is the time he spent with his score sheets. The feature here is the quality of composition that he's been able to put together a number of times, culminating in a series of quite worthwhile numbers. As is not necessarily the norm for drumming bandleaders, Thomas keeps largely to himself, using the drums not for major solos and spotlight-grabbing moves, but to color and shape the music and let the rest of the band do the majority of the work melodically. Here, the performance is perhaps highlighted mainly by the constant workouts from the horn section, with John Gross on tenor, Troy Grugett on baritone, Warren Rand on alto, and Dick Titterington on trumpet. They're capable of keeping up with the most intricate interweaving and counterpoint just as easily as the most basic of parallel lines. Randy Porter does an excellent job on the piano as well and, along with Tom Wakeling on bass and Thomas on drums, completes a rhythm section worthy of the compositions and the fine horn work. The music itself grooves through the post-bop feel quite ably, with touches of influences from soul-jazz, Spanish music, and beyond making themselves heard from time to time, but never quite at an overpowering level. The mood remains always energetic, always bubbling, but never quite boiling over. Overall, a catchy mix of compositions from a group of supremely able performers, led from behind quietly.

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