Every now and then one comes across an album that puts absolutely no demands on the listener. It is straightforward, mainstream jazz played by a well-contrived piano trio. There's no pretense, no startling nor dazzling improvisational runs, simply a laid-back, relaxed session of mostly standard material. It's the kind of presentation one might hear coming out of a small jazz club, not cocktail lounge, late in the evening or early in the morning. Such is the case with Chicago's Bradley Williams and his trio. Williams has been a mainstay on the Chicago jazz scene for years, having worked with other Windy City jazz stars such as Von Freeman and Jackie Allen. One hears in his renditions smatterings of Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, and, of course, Bill Evans. Williams' sweeping approach and feel for the music comes through on such cuts as a lilting "A Wonderful Guy" and a soft, expressive "For All We Know." Williams' playing mates, John Whitfield on bass and Greg Sergo and Jeff Stitlely sharing drum duties, fall right in with the unwinding atmosphere created by this CD. The only cut where matters get a bit energetic is on a thorough working of Horace Silver's "Juicy Lucy" and a modern reading of "There Is No Greater Love." Since this album was recorded in 1991, Williams has moved on to put together and had some success with his 21st Century Review -- a review of American jazz-related musical traditions from the perspective of the next century -- -- which he started in 1995. This album was a delightful stop along the way.
The Next Sound You Hear Review
by Dave Nathan