Tony Williams – Wilderness

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“One of drummer Tony Williams’ final studio projects, this adventurous effort alternates selections by an all-star quintet (which includes tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Stanley Clarke) with string orchestra tracks (usually using the rhythm section). Williams wrote most of the music (there is one song apiece from Metheny and Clarke), and despite the general unpredictability of the music (which ranges from melancholy to fiery), there is a surprising unity throughout the CD. Highlights include the pretty opener for strings “Wilderness Rising,” a lyrical quintet number, “The Night You Were Born,” the rockish freakout “China Moon” and the heated “Gambia”; only guitarist Lyle Workman’s guest spot on his droning “Machu Picchu” is a minus. Otherwise, this is intriguing music that rewards repeated listenings, making one further appreciate the great loss suffered as a result of Tony Williams’ premature death.” – Scott Yanow/AllMusic.

“A full orchestra joins Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny and Stanley Clarke in this collection of tone poems that compare and contrast several takes on the meaning of wilderness. The leader provides a glimpse of the moods being portrayed through his choice of titles, as well as by supplying in the liner notes several familiar quotations about mankind and the natural world. Drummer Williams, who led the fusion band Lifetime in decades past, opts to contrast the natural sounds of an orchestra with the electronic sounds from keyboard synthesizers, electric bass, and electric guitar. Three distinct thoughts on wilderness present themselves through the musical moods being portrayed. The full orchestra, with its natural sounds, supplies pastoral scenes of the outdoors. The fusion quintet, through its “China Town” trilogy, expresses the brash rhythmic attitude of city life. Several pieces are special in that they employ thoughtful and soulful improvisation, which of course comes from that other wilderness lying deep within the mind.
“The Night You Were Born” features Michael Brecker with a challenging tenor sax outing that shows off his technique and deep, ringing tone. Hancock on piano and Metheny on guitar blend to produce an image of some smoky dance hall late at night with only a few customers left standing around. Hancock stretches out in “Gambia” to share his unique mix of energetic and blues-based piano stylings; Metheny follows that with some of his delicate and fluid solo guitar work. Finally, “Cape Wilderness” sums it all up with fine solo work and group interplay from the quintet. Recommended.” – Jim Santella/AllAboutJazz.

Track listing:

1. Wilderness Rising (Williams)
2. China Town (Williams)
3. Infant Wilderness (Van Tongetern/Williams)
4. Harlem Mist ’55 (Clarke)
5. China Road (Williams)
6. The Night You Were Born (Methey)
7. Wilderness Voyager (Van Tongeren/Williams)
8. Machu Picchu (Workman)
9. China Moon (Williams)
10. Wilderness Island (Williams)
11. Sea Wilderness (Van Tongeren/Williams)
12. Gambia (Williams)
13. Cape Wilderness (Williams)

Tony Williams – Drums, Main Performer, Author, Orchestration
Michael Brecker – Sax (Tenor)
Herbie Hancock – Piano
Pat Metheny – Guitar
Rick Todd – French Horn
Chuck Berghofer – Bass
Charles Boito – Clarinet
Kenneth Burward-Hoy – Viola
Alexis Carreon – Viola
Stanley Clarke – Bass, Orchestration
Brian Dembow – Viola
Earl Dumler – Oboe
David Duke – French Horn
Stephen Erdody – Cello, Celli
Walt Fowler – Trumpet
David Garibaldi – Percussion
Susan Greenberg – Flute
Karen Jones – Violin
Alan Kaplan – Trombone
Katie Kirkpatrick – Harp
Armen Ksajikian – Celli
Kathleen Lenski – Violin
Margot MacLaine – Viola Liane
Reynolds-Mautner – Violin
Ralph Morrison – Violin
Geri Rotella – Flute
Jack Smalley – Conductor
John Steinmetz – Bassoon
Ralph Williams – Clarinet
Margaret Wooten – Violin
Lyle Workman – Guitar
Ken Yerke – Violin
Robert Zimmitti – Percussion
Vaughan Williams – Clarinet
Charles Berghoffer – Bass
Sheryl Staples – Violin
Mario de Leon – Violin
Chris Bleth – Oboe
Rose Corrigan – Bassoon
Liane Mautner – Violin
Ralph Williams – Clarinet


Label: Ark 21 Records ‎– 7243 8 54571 2 8
Format: CD, Album
Released: 1996
Recorded: December 1, 1995 – December 12, 1995