Buster Williams, Unalome Review


Buster Williams, Unalome Review

Ascending the Stairway of Sound: Buster Williams’ Unalome – An Enlightened Ode to Jazz’s Resplendent Spectrum

by Stamish Malcuss

Buster-Williams-Jazz-Sensibilites-cdBuster Williams’ latest record, Unalome, unfolds like a waltz through a lush, musical landscape. Each track is akin to a perfectly cultivated musical garden, presenting a glorious blend of sounds that are as diverse as they are harmonious. With Williams at the helm as the master gardener, his hands are gently yet firmly rooted in the soil of Jazz as he guides the listeners on a voyage of musical enlightenment.

The Buster Williams Something More Sextet is a lineup of talented artists, with Jean Baylor showcasing her vocals; Bruce Williams handles the saxophone and flute, infusing the music with melodic richness. Stefon Harris adds charm with his vibraphone playing. George Colligan is on the piano, providing a harmonious foundation for the group’s sound. At the heart of it is the legendary Buster Williams, the bassist whose expertise and creativity have long been admired in the music community. And last but not least, Lenny White, the drummer, sets the perfect rhythm and groove, solidifying the Sextet’s dynamic sound. Together, they form an ensemble that promises an unforgettable musical experience.

From the opener, “Stairways,” we see Williams planting seeds of melody, delicately interweaving Baylor’s wordless vocals with the saxophone and vibraphone in an elegant, musical tapestry. Much like a vine intertwining around a trellis, the harmony elegantly follows the melodic line, creating an atmosphere of optimistic bloom – a jazz flower in the early stages of bud, promising the brilliant spectacle of full color.

“Estate” showcases Williams’ profound understanding of the essence of Latin Jazz, much like a gardener appreciates the unique attributes of a tropical bloom. The ensemble’s rendering of this Latin standard resembles the captivating view of a lush tropical garden – vibrant, rhythmic, and intoxicating. Baylor’s melody here is much like a rare orchid, rich in texture and rhythmic accuracy.

The energy on “Tayamisha,” a Williams original, feels like an unrestrained dance of wildflowers in the wind. The band, unrestricted, explores the vastness of the sonic field with palpable enthusiasm, each artist weaving their unique musical colors into a rich tapestry of sound, conveying the boundless beauty of music in its most natural state.

“In the Middle of a Rainbow,” another Williams original, introduces us to his lyricism. It’s akin to witnessing the process of a seed’s journey to becoming a full-grown plant, a transformation from a simple idea into a fully realized composition. The lyric, born in the confines of Williams’ mind and nurtured during a spontaneous drive to the studio, has now bloomed into a captivating piece, a testament to Williams’ evolution as a lyricist.

The Buddhist influence throughout “The Wisdom of Silence” is palpable, like an audible zen garden, inspiring contemplation and tranquility. The ensemble, especially Williams and Harris, masterfully sculpt a soundscape that invites listeners to transcend the noise and find solace in the embrace of silence – a testament to the power of music as a tool for introspection and enlightenment.

The Warren/Dubin classic “42nd Street” finds a unique expression, like an old wine seeing a new bouquet in a different terroir. The Jazz-infused R&B rendition, like a special grafting technique, brings a new vitality to the classic. It’s like a rare fruit tree that has been carefully pruned and guided over the years to grow uniquely and beautifully, yielding a harvest that is familiar yet distinctly its own.

Finally, “Here’s to Life” brings our musical journey to a close, with Baylor’s heartfelt vocals guiding us through a thoughtful melody. It’s like a twilight stroll through a beautifully curated garden – the beauty of the day is behind you, but the serenity and peace of the evening ahead hold their own unique charm.

To create Unalome, Williams has expertly curated a band that mirrors a perfectly balanced ecosystem, where every member plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall health and vitality of the sound. Each musician brings their unique energy and expertise to the project, like diverse plants in a thriving garden, each contributing to the overall health and vibrancy of the ecosystem.

Listening to Unalome feels akin to exploring a beautifully cultivated musical garden, a testament to Williams’ 80 years of musical cultivation. The bassist’s meticulous care and attention to each note mirror a master gardener’s dedication to every plant, creating a living, breathing sonic landscape that is as rich as it is profound. Like the unending horizon that Williams speaks of, Unalome reminds us that music, much like a garden, is an evolving entity, its beauty deepening with every listen, much like the joy of watching a garden flourish over time. With each note, he helps us delve deeper into the beautiful garden of Jazz, uncovering the many layers of this complex and mesmerizing musical form. Unalome is a testament to a lifetime of musical cultivation, a glorious musical garden in full bloom, waiting to be explored, and experienced by every listener.

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