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Album Review

This is one of the more unusual records in the sizable discography of James Williams; it is a 1981 duo piano session with Czech pianist Emil Viklicky, issued by the Supraphon label in Czechoslovakia. Viklicky became familiar with Williams' work during a visit to the U.S. in 1978 and later studied at Berklee, though after Williams had already left the faculty to work as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. By the time of their 1981 meeting in the studio in Prague, each musician brought compelling originals to the session, as well as seeking to find new ground in time-tested standards and classic jazz compositions. Williams' intriguing jazz waltz "For My Nephews" proves to be a strong opener. Viklicky's driving bop tribute "One for J.W." also works extremely well. Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" is tackled at a brisk tempo with a bossa nova undercurrent. The pianists devour Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning" with a playful interpretation. Whether or not this excellent record is still available in the Czech Republic, it is unlikely to be easy to find elsewhere.

Biography

Born: March 8, 1951 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Pianist James Williams channeled the gospel and R&B influences of his youth to forge a soulful, deeply expressive approach to contemporary jazz. A gifted soloist and accompanist, he was also a respected producer and educator. Born in Memphis on March 8, 1951, Williams began piano lessons at age 13. A fan of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Ramsey Lewis, he spent six years as the organist with Memphis' Eastern Star Baptist Church before studying music education at Memphis State University. After...
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Together (Spolu), James Williams
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