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Buster Williams Quartet: Joined at the Hip

Buster Williams’ latest combo session, Joined at the Hip (TCB) is further evidence of his firm anchoring skill and tasteful, hornlike solos. It also reveals his disdain for the limelight, generously granting more stretch-out room to his colleagues-in this case, alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Carlos McKinney and drummer Ali Muhammad Jackson Jr. Since it evolved into a tribute to Charlie Parker, Wilson gets the Bird’s share of solo space and proves to be an outstanding descendant of Parker.

The concept can be an ear-opener for the unhip: The quartet reveals the origin of “What Is This Thing Called Love?” when Wilson follows that melody with the Parker line from “Hot House.” More instructive is “Scrapple From the Apple.” No mere juxtaposition: McKinney plays “Honeysuckle Rose” straight while Wilson jauntily overlays the bop line as Williams and Jackson add a mild Latin accent. This is Wilson’s moment to shine, but you can’t take your ears off Williams’ growling walk, bent tones and impeccable intonation.

Originally Published