Jeff Williams - drums
John O'Gallagher - alto saxophone
Josh Arcoleo - tenor saxophone
Sam Lasserson - double bass
Recorded live at London Jazz Festival
at Pizza Express Jazz Club (25 November 2018)
Engineer - Luc Saint-Martin
Mastering - Max Ross and Mike Marciano at Systems Two, Long Island, NY
Cover Photo - Rob Blackham
Inside Photo - John Rogers
Graphic Design - Dave Bush
Produced by Jeff Williams
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
All compositions by Jeff Williams, Willful Music BMI
released November 20, 2020
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Ohio native Jeff Williams cut his teeth playing with the likes of Stan Getz and Dave Liebman in the febrile atmosphere of 1970s New York, but London is now his second home and his free-ranging creativity both as drummer and as composer, coupled with his dedication as a teacher and bearer of the tradition, has embedded him deep into the UK scene.
This recording features an all-star cast of his longtime collaborators, with altoist John O’Gallagher and Josh Arcoleo on tenor making a ferocious twin-horn frontline and virtuoso bassist Sam Lasserson completing the rhythm section. With all the compelling immediacy of a live concert recording, 'Road Tales' documents how the shared experiences of being a band on the road for a decade or so has shaped a musical narrative, as each member tells the story of those experiences, and shows how they established their own identity within the compositions.
“Some of these tunes go back many years, but I think what’s special here is the way that band works together, adding things that aren’t on the paper. So many things were completely unplanned - it’s pure interaction, the sound of a band taking risks together.”
Williams’ compositions give his band a wonderfully diverse span of moods and colours to work with, and they rise to each occasion magnificently. ‘New And Old’ written to mark his father’s passing, is pitched halfway between elegy and nursery rhyme, while ‘The Interloper’ has a Monkish feeling to its quirkily phrased melody and ‘Borderline’ has a carefree major-key uplift, like a free- wheeling calypso or Mexican hat dance. ‘Oddity’ has switchback tempo changes with a burning solo from O’Gallagher, and ‘She Can’t Be A Spy’ spins a tale of mystery with Arcoleo quoting Shorter over a classic Blue Note lope. ‘Under The Radar’, ‘Search Me’ and ‘Scrunge’ run together to form what Williams laughingly refers to as ‘the airport security suite’, moving from a spacious airy feel into a twisted funk that builds into an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of uptempo blowing that’s at once free and deeply melodic. Bassist Lasserson shows his deep musicality on ‘She Can’t Be A Spy’ – “Sam is quite a unique player - to me he’s on a very high level as a musician - he’s so inventive and his ability to take a composition and find so many ways to play it is incredible.”
'Road Tales', his sixth release for Whirlwind, marks the latest stage on a continuous musical journey for Williams and his musical partners. “I love to have a band that is able to take chances – It’s wonderful the way this group can develop my compositions, with their ability to take things as far as possible without going over the cliff. There aren't many actual on-going bands in jazz anymore. The fact that this is one is something I'm proud of. That's the only way a performance of this type becomes possible.”
"Animated, melodic percussion language, punchy original themes and space for gifted soloists."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
"Honest music played with passion and integrity."
"The performance is delivered with real intensity and dynamism and a genuine spirit of musical adventure."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
“The quartet dances, swings, sways, roars, and makes you listen... A delight from start to finish.”
"A belter for those who like their jazz to be near the cutting edge."
Bebop Spoken Here
"With all the compelling immediacy of a live concert, 'Road Tales' documents how the shared experiences of being a band on the road for a decade or so has shaped a musical narrative."
"Road Tales is filled with captivating performances... Adding further joyous collaborations to his already important discography is more than anyone could ask of him."
All About Jazz
"Jeff Williams’ sharp compositions and his tricky and assertive swing feel should be just as appreciated today as his work with Stan Getz and Dave Liebman was in the ’70s."
"Williams' compositions give his band a wonderfully diverse range of moods and colors."
"Williams' drumming finds all available spaces to push and shape the playing... his compositions are clear and vibrant."
"Sometimes the songs on 'Road Tales' ripple and meander then after a temp or harmonic change take you brutally by the scruff of the neck... Lots of bebop with a liberal dash of 'free' and 'avant-garde' topping."
Written in Music
"The chordless affair takes off, especially in the improvised, soloistic moments."
"Taking risks is the order of the day... their courageous approach makes the hands-on live recording appealing."
★★★★ Drums and Percussion
The Whirlwind Artist Page for drummer and composer Jeff Williams.
who's career spans over four decades & musical associates have included Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman and Lookout Farm, Joe Lovano, Paul Bley, Bill McHenry, Ethan Iverson, Tony Malaby......more
supported by 30 fans who also own “Live at London Jazz Festival: Road Tales”
Creative, fresh, continuously surprising - this is the first album I've bought that is not straight-ahead jazz. Nachoff has won me over with brilliant writing, brilliant musicianship, and evocative arrangements. Just when a solo seems to have completed its exploration of a musical statement, for one example, the low sonorities of a beautiful synth line jump in to add gorgeous texture and to take the musical idea into fascinating territory. Bravo! freshkach