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Album Review


April 24, 1998|BILL KOHLHAASE


"Somewhere Along the Way"

TCoB Music

Bassist Buster Williams came to prominence working with Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson in the early '60s, then went on to stints with the Jazz Crusaders, Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, the Thelonious Monk-inspired combo Sphere and VSOP with Hancock, Tony Williams and Wynton Marsalis. Williams has seldom recorded under his own name, though his 1989 album "Something More" on the European In + Out label, with Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Al Foster, received critical acclaim if not wide distribution.

This quintet, with saxophonist Gary Bartz, vibist Stefon Harris, pianist Carlos McKinney and drummer Lenny White, is worthy of equal acclaim. It highlights Williams' deep-seated improvisations and colorful counter-melodies in accompaniment without overemphasizing that this is a bassist's date. Bartz, on both alto and soprano, is earthy and to the point. Return to Forever veteran White is especially inventive in this straight-ahead setting.

Williams' own tunes, sprinkled among clever readings of "All of You," "Espistrophy" and "Summertime," are beautifully detailed pieces that recall the bassist's days with the ambitious Hancock sextet of the late '60s and early '70s. "Somewhere Along the Way" confirms that Williams should be recording more often.


Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

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