Heart Song

Heart Song

by Al Williams
     
 
It isn't hard to understand why smooth jazz is the whipping boy of jazz reviewers. Much of the shlock that American smooth jazz/NAC stations play is boring, mechanical, robotic, and devoid of soul. But if one considers Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, and early Ronnie Laws part of smooth jazz, then one

Overview

It isn't hard to understand why smooth jazz is the whipping boy of jazz reviewers. Much of the shlock that American smooth jazz/NAC stations play is boring, mechanical, robotic, and devoid of soul. But if one considers Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, and early Ronnie Laws part of smooth jazz, then one has to say that some smooth jazz has artistic merit; Washington's Mister Magic album, in fact,, is a classic. Al Williams III's Heart Song won't go down in history as a classic, but it is a generally decent, if uneven, effort that is far superior to most of the bloodless elevator music that smooth jazz/NAC programmers have favored in the 1990s and in the 21st century. Heart Song has its dull moments: Williams' unimaginative cover of Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" is among the throwaways. Williams should have soared on that 1980s gem, but instead, his radio-oriented version is nothing more than lethargic background music. The good news, however, is that most of Heart Song is worthwhile. Williams is a skillful tenor, alto, and soprano saxman with a strong Washington influence that carries over to his flute playing (which owes something to Hubert Laws and Herbie Mann as well as Mister Magic), and most of the time, he successfully balances commercial and artistic considerations. Tracks like "Sun Dance," "Skylight Drive," and "Midnight in Morocco" have a lot of pop appeal, but they also have an edge and demonstrate that Williams is aware of smooth jazz's soul-jazz heritage (Washington, it should be noted, was greatly influenced by heavyweights like Gene Ammons, Stanley Turrentine, and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis). Heart Song isn't nearly as risk-taking as it could have been, but it has more pluses than minuses -- and more often than not, Williams reminds us that smooth jazz doesn't have to be mindless drivel.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/02/2008
Label:
Pacific Coast Jazz
UPC:
0829166824004
catalogNumber:
82400
Rank:
189314

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Williams   Primary Artist
Tom Schuman   Keyboards
Alex Al   Bass
Scott Ambush   Bass
Wayne Bruce   Guitar
David Dyson   Bass
Ronnie Gutierrez   Vocals,Background Vocals
Chris Kent   Bass
Alfredo Mojica   Percussion
John Stoddart   Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals
Dan Leonard   Guitar
Alvin S. White   Guitar
Kevin Prince   Percussion
Aaron Broadus   Trumpet
Michael Ripoli   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar

Technical Credits

George Gershwin   Composer
Alex Al   Bass Engineer
Scott Ambush   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Tony Coleman   Composer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Mick Hucknall   Composer
Kevin Jackson   Engineer
Kathy Wakefield   Composer
Benjamin F. Wright   Composer
John Stoddart   Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Marc Staggers   Composer
Neil Moss   Composer
Williams   Composer
Michael Ripoli   Engineer,Guitar Engineer

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