Joe Williams with Count Basie and His Orchestra: Come Rain Or Come Shine

The Greatest!! was the second album by Joe Williams with the Count Basie Orchestra. It was designed to show that Williams was more than just Basie’s new blues shouter, and that he was a superb interpreter of ballads and standards. Williams’ mastery at ballads grew more sophisticated in his later years, but on this version of “Come Rain Or Come Shine”, his simple and straightforward approach hews to Harold Arlen’s original tempo marking of “slowly and very tenderly”. What is not tender is Buddy Bregman’s arrangement, which leans too heavily on sudden blasts from the brass. Perhaps Bregman was attempting to create a contrast with Williams’ earnest delivery, but the idea just doesn’t work. Instead, the mood created by Williams is disrupted by the band. Still, Williams makes the best of it all with a very fine vocal performance.

May 17, 2009 · 0 comments


Jaco Pastorius (with Herbie Hancock): Liberty City

I really enjoy “Liberty City” from Jaco Pastorius’ second record, Word of Mouth. It’s a big band arrangement where Jaco is playing all his stuff, but Herbie is soloing exuberantly all over it, on top of it, underneath it, hearing all this stuff behind him and really going for it. I remember buying this, putting it on, and listening to it over and over. It has Toots Thielemans, Wayne Shorter, Peter Erskine...the feel is so good. Especially in that period, Jaco’s style was so fresh, combining virtuosity with total taste, and such a good rhythmic feel, defining a new sound for the electric bass—you hear Herbie react to and be inspired by it, as he so often was by other people, while at the same time being supportive. You could pick selections from Jaco’s first record, Jaco Pastorius, where Herbie played on "Speak Like A Child" among other compositions. It’s very telling that when Jaco asked Herbie Hancock to be part of his first record and subsequent ones, because he knew that Herbie would add his own unique thing to the music.

March 20, 2009 · 0 comments


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