Thursday, January 18, 2018

Review: Ben Williams really is 'Coming of Age'

At age 30, Ben Williams is a rising star on not only the D.C. music scene but also on the national jazz scene. Relatively young for an acclaimed jazz musician, he's already on his second album, Coming Of Age, which is capturing major attention from critics and jazz fans alike.

Coming Of Age showcases Williams comfortably growing into his own as an overall musician and band leader. Throughout the album, he alternates between his usual acoustic bass and the electric bass while accompanied (sometimes seeming overpowered) by his band, Sound Effect.

Williams' work on both instruments is stellar but his best performance on the latter bass comes on The Color of My Dreams. On the calm affair, the warm, slightly purring tone of his bass "duets" with the gentle tinkling of guest artist Stefon Harris' vibraphone before building toward a climactic outro. Another standout performance (not limited to a specific bass) is Forecast. The upbeat composition features a catchy, rapid-fire hook and some amazing solos from alto saxophonist Marcus Strickland and pianist Christian Sands.

Williams also takes out two slots on the track listing for covers: Lianne La Havas' Lost and Found and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. He and his band, along with Christian Scott on trumpet, transform the former into a more somber ballad than the original. Smells Like Teen Spirit, on the other hand, is a complete solo effort in which Williams adds extra flare to a classic.

Coming Of Age is a confident record that serves as one more stepping-stone for its creator. With it, Williams is certainly proving himself to be a coming staple amongst the younger generation of jazz artists, a group that continues to try pushing itself to the major music forefront.

Dinorah Prevost Seminole High

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