Ben Williams - State of Art (Music CD)

Release Date: 31 October 2011
Artist: Ben Williams
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Bassist Ben Williams' 2011 solo debut, State of Art, is a thoughtful contemporary and post-bop-leaning album that finds the winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition delving into several original tunes and successful pop covers. Williams is an adroit improviser with a fluid, muscular approach to the upright -- as well as the electric -- bass, and he showcases all of his skills here along with his ear for unexpected covers and lively originals. Tracks like the roiling, Latin-infused number "November," featuring guitarist Matthew Stevens, and the high-energy, frenetic "Mr. Dynamite" are ear-popping straight-ahead jazz moments, while the hip-hop jazz cut "The Lee Morgan Story," featuring MC/vocalist John Robinson, brings to mind such '90s innovators as Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. A child of the hip-hop generation, Williams clearly has an affinity for the music he grew up with, and consequently, although he does deliver a ruminative and gorgeous contemporary jazz version of "Moonlight in Vermont" here, he also includes a handful of inspired soul covers, including a string-heavy take on Michael Jackson's "Little Susie" and a slow and funky modal jazz version of Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Lover" featuring saxophonist Marcus Strickland, while he turns R&B singer Goapele's "Things Don't Exist" into a cinematic orchestral jazz ballad. Though not an R&B cover, Williams' version of trumpeter Woody Shaw's underappreciated "Moontrane" only helps to further expand an already supremely well-rounded debut. ~ Matt Collar
Release Date: 31 October 2011
Artist: Ben Williams

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

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Catalogue No: CJA32341