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Williams, Jeff: Lifelike

American drummer Jeff Williams, who divides his time between New York and London has worked with the likes of Richie Beirach, Dave Liebman, Stan Getz and Lee Konitz. Some of his work dates back to the early ‘70s although it was not until fairly recently and his run of albums on Whirlwind Recordings that he has built up a considerable solo discography beginning with Another Time released in 2011, which I reviewed a few years back. Next came The Listener (2013) followed by Outlier (2016). His latest disc is titled Lifelike and consists of a great supporting cast of UK musicians.

The album was recorded live at the Vortex Jazz Club in London on June 13, 2017. Williams has selected some old and more recently written tunes for this performance. The disc ends and begins with two songs taken from The Listener; “Under The Radar” and “Double Life”. With the former Williams' beginning drum work takes on abstract connotations before the band starts to swing as the saxophone emerges to the forefront. The improvised trumpet figure adds complexity and spontaneity to the piece. The following piano solo adds more complexity as Williams' elaborate drum patterns take center stage. With “Double Life” the band is in full flight taking the piece in new and exciting directions. The tenor sax solo is particularly noteworthy. In between are five tracks like “Dream Visitor” where the soloists absolutely shine. More outstanding tenor work from Arcoleo as the entire band cooks up a storm or just as easily eases off the gas allowing for more subtle restraint, displaying incredible talent in the process. There are four more tracks that will both fascinate and delight fans of complex music.

Although Lifelike isn’t as immediate as many other jazz albums I have heard this year, if you give it the time it deserves the results are just as rewarding. Highly recommended.

The players:
Jeff Williams (drums)
Goncalo Marquez (trumpet)
John O’Gallagher (alto saxophone)
Josh Arcoleo (tenor saxophone)
Kit Downes (piano)
Sam Lasserson (double bass)

Track Listing:
1. Under The Radar (8:40)
2. The Interloper (6:32)
3. Dream Visitor (8:34)
4. Lament (9:45)
5. Borderline (8:46)
6. Cancão do Amolador (7:59)
7. Double Life (10:12)

Added: June 21st 2018
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1809
Language: english

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