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Billy Childs/Buster Williams/Carl Allen: Skim Coat

Making musical magic is a gift that doesn’t come easily nor does it happen often enough. That makes bassist Buster Williams a lucky man. In the mid- to late 1970s he was part of the Ron Carter quartet, a group whose members were so obviously in synch with each other that they created magic nightly on the bandstand at Sweet Basil. Now Williams has joined forces with pianist Billy Childs and drummer Carl Allen-and once again sparks fly, igniting a shared passion and supreme level of communication.

The interplay between the three jumps out from the first tune; this is no ordinary ride in a “Surrey with the Fringe on Top.” Childs’ rhythmic opening brands it theirs. In “Every Time We Say Goodbye” Williams’ bass moans behind Childs’ plaintive reading, giving the tune a mournfulness while Allen’s brushes glide them through the pain. And in the title track, a Williams original, the three of them wander to far out places where they dart in and around each other, stopping and starting, then chasing new ideas.

Williams’ bass playing has found new depths over the years, and he’s a strong presence in his solos and in the ensemble playing-listen to him sway with Childs on Ivan Lin’s “Love Dance.” Childs’ piano playing sings with clarity and emotion, never overpowering the others. Allen’s drumming effortlessly moves the tunes along, adding sparkling accents. The chemistry’s palpable.

Originally Published