A couple of weeks ago, I got to hear Ben Williams play at Bohemian Caverns for one of his many CD-Release concerts. Fantastic show. The piano player (forgot his name) was amazing, and Mr. Williams grooved his sox off. I actually went to school with Ben at Michigan State for the 2003 school year, but I was out of the jazz picture then because I was doing my student teaching at the time. As my husband said after the concert, “I’ve heard a lot of good bass players, but there’s just something about that guy…” And so I have been immersing myself in this album for the last couple of weeks, listening over and over as I drive around. I really like this album. There’s a lot of crossover, which surprised me, but in a good way. My favorite tracks are the lush arrangements with the string players. God it’s beautiful. He’s got MJ and a rapper on a jazz album. Good stuff, and I’m still hearing new things every time I listen. I will say the mixdown is interesting. There’s a ride cymbal on the right side that feels like it is right next to me, with a beautiful high pitched sound I like. I just wish there was more bass in the mix. I need a better sound system! Fantastic album, one I’ll be enjoying for years to come. Great job Ben Williams, and I look forward to the next one. Actually I should say, I look forward to purchasing the next one. Now everybody go out and do that too!
Post update – this album is now #1 for the jazz radio top 50 list at jazzweek.com! August 3rd 2011
What a fantastic little treasure I found the other day when I got to hear Amy Shook and Felicia Carter live at the Westminster Presbyterian Jazz Night! Somehow this CD wound up in my CD player, and I was soon groovin’ to their title track, “Nothin’ To Do.” Love Felicia Carter’s voice, silky smooth with a penchant for Portuguese, and her songs have a bluesy/jazzy/new orleans feel to them. I really like the swamp groove with “Nothing to Do” and “Broken Teeth Blues.” Amy Shook’s bass on the Broken Teeth Blues (an original) is groovin’. I had never heard “St. Vitus Dance” before, but am really hooked after hearing Amy Shook’s trio on that tune. Felicia Carter sings her songs with the attention to detail that I crave in the jazz singer’s performance style – she’s not afraid to lay back the tempo, or even to argue with the rhythm section (in a playful way, mind you), to create color with tone or articulation, and to let her soul shine. I’m really enjoying my own personal copy of “Nothing to Do.” You can take a sneak preview on Amy Shook’s website, http://amyshook.com or Felicia Carter’s website, http://feliciacarter.com if you want. Good stuff.
Steeped in the tradition of the masters yet forging ahead with a style all its own, Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes is the new all-star, all-women jazz orchestra based out of the D.C. area. Laid back but hard swinging, the Bullettes bring all generations together to enjoy a dynamite performance. Listen to their music, join the mailing list, and be the first to know when they will play again! If you’d like to know more, please visit their website, http://bullettesjazz.com, or email Ms. Gunn at jazztothebone [at] gmail.com