Word gets around about local jazz legends who never leave their hometowns for the obligatory trip to New York City, usually due to concerns about family and financial stability. Whit Williams is a veteran jazz educator who taught music for 37 years before retiring, though he continued to teach in various capacities. These 2004 sessions find him leading his Now's the Time Big Band, which consists of promising young players from Baltimore along with a sprinkling of a few guests, including tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath, trombonist Slide Hampton, tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas (who doubles on flute), and alto saxophonist Charlie Young. There is a Latin undercurrent throughout most of the CD, with peppy tight ensembles and strong solos, including originals and arrangements by Heath (the bittersweet, bluesy "Losing Game" and the cooking "Without You, No Me"), Hampton (the breezy "A Day in Copenhagen"), and the leader (the tense "Get Home Before Dark"). One oddity about this release: although it is stated in Rusty Hassan's liner notes that Whit Williams is a multi-reed player, his name is omitted from the CD's credits and is never identified as a soloist in the text.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden