Jessica Williams: The Sheikh

Track

The Sheikh

Artist

CD

Encounters (Jazz Focus 005)

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Musicians:

Jessica Williams (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass),

Mel Brown (drums)

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Composed by Jessica Willliams

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Recorded: live at Atwater's, Portland, OR, Sept. 10, 1994

Williams

Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

"The Sheikh" was written for veteran bassist Leroy Vinnegar, who joined WIlliams and drummer Mel Brown for the pianist's first live club recording. Williams prefers not to rehearse bands in order to ensure freshness and spontaneity, and those two words greatly apply to what is heard here. "The Sheikh" has gone on to become a staple in Williams' repertoire, and is among the original compositions she has most frequently recorded.

Vinnegar's bass figure and Williams' complementary chords lead to the concise, fetching vamp that essentially comprises the theme. Williams both dampens and strums the piano strings, developing percussive patterns, as Vinnegar maintains the insinuating bass line. The pianist now alternates between strummed strings, chirping phrases, and forceful chords, before bluesy passages and insistent block chords dominate the remainder of her solo. Brown in his improv makes inventive use of sundry parts of his kit, from bass drum to rims, and he also seems to employ a hand or elbow to create effective muffled textures. After Williams revisits the theme, Vinnegar, fittingly, is left alone to to carry the piece to its satisfying conclusion.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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