Saturday, February 6, 2016

Patrick Williams: Home Suite Home

BFM Jazz
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Home Suite Home

Who gets the credit for a great jazz album? It’s usually the performing artist(s), and that almost always means an instrumentalist or vocalist. Well, that isn’t the case here; all the credit belongs to Patrick Williams. He composed and arranged the music; he selected the instrumentalists and vocalists; and he was the driving force behind it all.

Williams may not be a household name among jazz fans, but recording artists and producers certainly know and appreciate him. He has written the music for more than 65 feature films, 100 television films and 25 television series. He has won four Emmys and two Grammys — out of 19 nominations — and he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, for his orchestral work An American Concerto.

Needless to say, he had his pick of the 18 instrumentalists and three vocalists who participated on this album. Every serious jazz fan will recognize all of them, starting with vocalists Patti Austin, Tierney Sutton and Frank Sinatra Jr. The instrumentalists include pianist Dave Grusin, drummer Peter Erskine, trumpeter Arturo Sandavol, trombonist Bob McChesny, and saxists Bob Sheppard and Tom Scott.

The true “stars,” however, are the eight tracks composed and arranged by Williams. Four are tributes to members of his family: children Elizabeth, Greer and Patrick B., and his wife of 53 years, Katherine. The rest relate to musicians Williams reveres: “A Hefti Dose of Basie,” for composer/arranger Neal Hefti and Count Basie; “That’s Rich” (drummer Buddy Rich); “I’ve Been Around” (Frank Sinatra), sung by Frank Sinatra Jr. and Tierney Sutton; and “52nd & Broadway,” sung by Patti Austin.

The arrangement voicings are second to none; the interplay between the brass, reed and rhythm sections is to die for. And the result swings like crazy; I’ve never heard better!

The descriptor genius gets overused, but no other adjective applies to Williams, for what he has created here.  You’ll never tire of listening to what he hath wrought.

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