Tony Williams: Neptune: Overture
Tony Williams (drums)
The Story of Neptune (Blue Note CDP 7 98169 2)
Bill Pierce (sax), Ira Coleman (bass).
Composed by Tony Williams.
Recorded: New York, November 1991
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
Tony Williams's post-fusion career proved more successful for him than his fusion years. Though he was one of the movement's founding fathers, he never achieved the commercial success he desired or probably deserved. For the most part, after his jazz-rock career fizzled, Williams turned to playing progressive jazz with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Wallace Roney and many others. His greatest success came as a member of the jazz group V.S.O.P., which also featured Hancock, Shorter, Ron Carter and Freddie Hubbard. They produced three wildly successful live albums. Williams was no longer the leader in this music, but his drumming continued to be one of the marvels of the jazz world. Over the years, he would lead many fine jazz releases.
"Neptune: Overture" is a modern jazz piece with a very slight Latin vibe. Its highly syncopated introduction, with Miller's staccatos dominant, is not Latin-sounding in any way. In fact, it would make a good newscast theme for some hip television station. Williams, Miller and Coleman develop the flow before Pierce plays a bit of counterpoint. Then he and Roney play their own unison theme. Williams's drum mastery is evident here. You can't take your ears off it. Miller's blazing runs lead into an expressive Williams solo that ends the overture. A good friend of mine once told me of a Williams set he caught in a nightclub in the late '60s. He swore he saw Tony Williams physically turn into his drum kit. All possible drug references aside, I have never been able to come up with a better description.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky