Suite for John A. Williams
John A. Williams' books have often incorporated the fabric of jazz to make cogent and compelling points about critical issues. Tyrone Brown has assembled an unusual configuration to pay tribute to the author. The keyboard is excluded from the usual rhythm-section lineup, while alto saxophonist Bobby Zankel is aided by a configuration of viola, violin, cello and guitar. Since he was at one time an ace jazz critic, it's not surprising that John A. Williams would also prove a fine oral performer.
The six-part suite's sections are named after pivotal Williams volumes; the tune "The Man Who Cried I Am," named after the author's popular book, leads off the CD, and the climatic "Readings From Safari West" demonstrates the author's ability to smoothly fit into a musical setting. "Night Song" and "Captain Blackman" have catchy melodies and exciting playing. The nearly 12-minute finale is the only piece where the arrangement loses some of its edge, but that's due more to the majesty of Williams' verbal forays than any flaws or excesses by the musicians.