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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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State of Art

Concord Jazz 0888072323414



1. Home
2. Moontrane
3. The Lee Morgan Story
4. Dawn Of A New Day
5. Little Susie Intro
6. Little Susie
7. November
8. Part-Time Lover
9. Things Don't Exist
10. Mr. Dynamite
11. Moonlight In Vermont

Ben Williams - Double bass, electric bass
Jaleel Shaw - Alto sax, soprano sax
Marcus Strickland - Tenor sax, soprano sax
Matthew Stevens - Guitar
Gerald Clayton - Piano, Fender Rhodes
Jamire Williams - Drums
Etienne Charles - Percussion
John Robinson - Emcee, vocals (track 3)
Christian Scott - Trumpet (track 3)
Maria Im, Meg Okura - Violins (tracks 6, 9)
Colin Brookes - Viola (tracks 6, 9)
Justina E. Sullivan - Cello (tracks 6, 9)


American bassist Ben Williams seems to be a mixed-up sort of fellow. His sleeve-note states that "NOW will always be more important than THEN". What does he mean by "NOW"? He says "I have a much more personal connection to music of the 90s than that of the 40s". So is "NOW" the 1990s or 2010, when this album was recorded? Yet this album includes Stevie Wonder's Part-Time Lover, which dates from 1985.

At any rate, this CD contains a variety of styles from the jazz-rock of Home via the Latin rhythms of November to the jazz standard Moonlight in Vermont. Unfortunately this version of Vermont sounds nothing like the tune I know, nor does Part-Time Lover seem anything like Stevie Wonder's original. Michael Jackson's Little Susie also lacks the tunefulness of Jackson's song (such as it was) but is founded on a two-note riff not unlike Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof.

Four of the tracks are compositions by Williams himself, although neither he nor his musicians seem to have much sense of melody. Too many tunes are based on riffs, whose repetition is used as a substitute for melody. And The Lee Morgan Story has gabbled rapping instead of a tune.

This doesn't mean to say that the music is unpleasant - much of it flows along agreeably, illustrating the technical abilities of the musicians. I just wish that it had left me humming a few melodies, which it failed to do even after three listenings. I wouldn't like to think that this is the state of the art in jazz.

Tony Augarde

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