Guitarist Brad Allen Williams has an upfront quality to his style of play. There’s a simple essence here with just a touch of flare without ostentatiousness. The bluesy, rootsiness of his sound certainly brings to mind the Memphis tone for which he strove with his new album, Lamar. The stripped-down essence of these songs alongside Pat Bianchi on Hammond organ and Tyshawn Sorey at some of his most direct playing on drums culminates in an altogether pleasant listen.
When did Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” become an honest-to-God standard? How did it come into the common musician parlance that this 1982 hit that sounds very much like a hit from 1982 should be played with earnestness and sincerity, and sometimes this actually works? Williams starts his album off with a version of this song which speaks to the easygoing vibe this album encapsulates. This is in fact the highest energy the album manages to gather in the first half before settling into ballads well known like The Stylistics’ “Betcha By Golly Wow” and originals like “201 Poplar”. This is mood music.
However, things pick up some later with “Euclid and Lamar” before settling in once again for the remainder of the album, finding its most “not easy being green” moment with Williams closing out the album solo with a soulful take on “More Than You Know”.
This is a simple album. It’s a trio album that doesn’t raise the blood rate too high, but one must surmise that it was never Williams’ intention to do so. Lamar is a chipper album, like a stroll on a fall afternoon. Guitar/organ/drum trio albums do that sometimes.
Brad Allen Williams: Electric guitars and electric sitar
Pat Bianchi: Hammond organ
Tyshawn Sorey: drums
Produced by Brad Allen Williams
Recorded and mixed by John Davis at The Bunker Studio, Brooklyn
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.