Jamire Williams is an artist. He's best known for being a drummer. He has backed numerous groups. His style, which I have described on this site many times as a "constant rumbling", is signature and frequently in demand. As a musician, he is always one to listen for. Yet, over the last few years, it has become clear that Williams is more than this. Being a musician is great-- crafting sounds, making beats, moving people's heads and feet by way of their ears. However, Williams had had a vision of his own that captures more than the auditory medium, for Williams is a multimedia artist. And when it comes to art, particularly contemporary art, some of it just fits better in a gallery. Thus, Jamire Williams, in the constant expression of artistry has made a gallery album-- ///// EFFECTUAL out now on Leaving Records.
One can hear a lot of different influences in guitarist Cameron Mizell's Negative Spaces. He can ride along with gentle curves like John Scofield, he can smartly noodle like Bill Frisell. He can be chameleonic as a player, but it all comes out sweetly.
Being a church musician involves a certain kind of versatility which lends itself to a certain kind of cadence. This is particularly true in the black church. It's a tradition steeped in soul and fortitude in the face of segregation; it's a sound that lends itself to unabashed shouts; it's a chordal structure that lets everyone in the sanctuary find a place, if the Holy Spirit blesses the congregation with the gift of song (I know the sound well but my childhood home church only had the gifts in fits and starts, I know and recognize the pattern but let's just say my childhood had some really superb Bible teaching, but the choir left things to be desired). While pianist Enoch Smith Jr.'s latest album is a live recording from a Presbyterian Church, every drop of what he plays, and The Quest: Live at APC is an album mainly of original compositions, sounds right at home in the red book (that's The New National Baptist Hymnal to the uninitiated).
How does one easily express a larger idea? It's been three years since keyboardist Eddie Moore and his group the Outer Circle released The Freedom of Expression, and now the building of new, impressionable material for the next one had to commence. Glimmers showed up in live performances over three years and now is the time for this collection of songs circulated around the sprawling but regal song triptych that is "Kings and Queens" have proven that it may have taken some doing to get here but their ever-present soulfulness in their play always makes it sound easy.
Norah Jones can do whatever she wants as an artist, it seems. Since she broke on the scene in 2002 (though she still spent years putting in dues before that, shouts to Wax Poetic, shouts to Peter Malick), Jones' varied musical interests have sprawled out impressively to create a body of work that includes jazz, folk, country, indie pop, rock, and the indefinable but certainly pleasant. She has amassed a litany of collaborators. She's shown astute awareness of her image in popular culture (her appearances in Seth MacFarlane's Ted and David Wain's They Came Together are clever, her starting foray in Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights was kind of soporific but still worth checking out at least once). In essence, Norah Jones has for her artistic career been adept at expressing her creative urges in a public sphere and has always been satisfying as a musician. For her to take so many turns while still sounding so definitively her is an accomplishment. For her to return to the kind of sound that brought her to our collective attention in her new Blue Note album, Day Breaks, isn't merely a return to form but yet another instance of Norah Jones doing whatever she wants as an artist and still, as usual, succeeding.