Al Williams III - Heart Song


When you listen to music of artists like Gerry Brown, John Lee, Stanley Clarke, Hubert Laws, Chick Corea,  Earl Klugh, Rodney Franklin and Lenny White,  there is a good chance, that you listen to the sax of Al Williams. I love his performance on Exodus Quartet's Summer Soulstice and recently I reviewed N-Groove's It's Who We Are (2007), on which Al played a prominent role with his soprano sax.

That said it's a great pleasure to review Al Williams' third solo project Heart Song (2008). His previous albums Never Too Late (1998) and See For Yourself (2003) received rave reviews and high accolades by critics and audience. His new album was produced by John Stoddart, who also performed keyboards and programming with the exception of the second track Skyline Drive. Stoddart’s major label debut was his album Wings To Walk This Road on Reprise Records.

Starter of the album is Heart Song. Al reveals his mellow treat of a heartfelt ballade in the tradition of Grover Washington Jr. and Kirk Whalum. Skyline Drive is the right sound collage for a car drive through your favorite metropolis. Spyro Gyra members Tom Schuman and Scott Ambush support Al on this dynamic ride.

The African country Morocco plays an important role in smooth jazz. Recently I reported about Jason Miles' trip to the Casablanca Jazz Festival during his Global Noize tour. The fascination of this mysterious country has also inspired Al Williams to the song Midnight In Morocco. The song is featuring Aaron Broadus on trumpet. Aaron is a professor of music at the Georgetown University and earned merits with shows of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and other legends.

I'm Going To Love You presents crooner Ron Gutierrez. His smooth voice and dynamic stage presence have established him as one of the region’s top entertainers and a favorite among the Kansas City’s top-tier jazz musicians. One Hundred Ways was a great hit of Quincey Jones and James Ingram. Al's rendition is close to the original, no emotions are lost.

On Sun Dance Al exchange the sax for the flute showcasing his excellent prowess of this instrument. John Stoddart wrote the song If You Really Need Me Now for Patti Austin's album On the Way to Love (2001). On Al's album John is singing his ballade himself and it's convincingly fresh. More of Al's mellow flute sound is to find on his composition Just Us.

Mick "Red Hucknall" founded with other musicians the British group Simply Red in 1984. One year later Simply Red released their album Picture Book. The song Holding Back The Years topped the U.S. charts and was numerously covered. Al Williams' rendition shows a personal interpretation of this awesome song. On I Never Thought Al and John shines on their reputable instruments.

George Gershwin composed the song Someone To Watch Over Me for the musical Oh, Kay! (1926). Today it's a jazz standard and again Al keeps it contemporary.

Al Williams' album Heart Song is neither onomatopoeic nor vociferous. This picturesque sound work decorates melodies with meanders, gentle, smooth, unobtrusive but with a view to sustainability.




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  • Title: Heart Song
    Artist: Al Williams III
    Year: 2008
    Length: 0:45:09
    Genre: Smooth Jazz
    Label: First Step Records

    01 Heart Song [3:53]
    02 Skyline Drive [3:56]
    03 Midnight In Morocco [3:45]
    04 I'm Going To Love You [4:34]
    05 One Hundred Ways [4:16]
    06 Sun Dance [4:41]
    07 If You Really Need Me Now [3:55]
    08 Just Us [4:29]
    09 Holding Back The Years [3:55]
    10 I Never Thought [4:39]
    11 Someone To Watch Over Me [3:07]