Buster Williams Trio: Houdini

Houdini (Sirocco 1014; 59:52), by Buster Williams’ Trio is framed by two versions of the title tune, an alternately driving and pensive piece. The first is credited to Williams, pianist Geri Allen and drummer Lenny White, while the closing take is credited to Williams alone. That may indicate some of the porous, collective dynamic in this potent piano trio, in which Allen’s playing is notably strong and imaginative, while Williams’ sturdy vision shines through. It’s a well-balanced song set, between standards like “If I Should Lose You” and “Little Girl Blue” (with Williams taking the melody) and Williams’ originals, ranging from the lovely ballad “Bellodgia Diva” to the teasing light swing and hard-bop colors of “Ouija Board,” full of the bassist’s characteristic nimbleness and verve. Things get especially fiery on their version of Herbie Hancock’s increasingly heated “The Sorcerer,” and they veer into more ethereal terrain with Wayne Shorter’s classic, dreamy ballad “Fall,” with Williams’ lines tumbling around the landscape like a restless dancer.