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Ben Riley: Weaver of Dreams

Drummer Ben Riley leads this 1993 trio, featuring bassist Buster Williams and tenor saxman Ralph Moore. They perform nine tunes, including standards, jazz standards and one original apiece by Riley and Williams. The bassist and drummer are consummate artists; in the rhythm section they not only support and buoy soloists beautifully, but are inventive and subtle enough to be worth hearing by themselves while doing it. They’ve been working a long time together, and, in terms of interplay, put on a clinic. Riley once told me that one of his primary goals was to stay out of the bassist’s way and here he and Williams give each other plenty of breathing room. The two men solo superbly as well. Note in particular Williams’ terrific unaccompanied spot on “Solar,” during which he employs harmonics very effectively, and Riley’s work on “Doonda,” on which he’s the only performer; it’s as musical and nicely constructed a drum solo as you’d ever want to hear.

Moore’s style seems a cross of John Coltrane’s and Sonny Stitt’s. He swings convincingly, has good chops and is never at a loss for ideas, though he lacks originality. His work’s traditional even by 1970 standards.

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