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Gary Willis: No Sweat

For juiced-up small group fusion, check out Gary Willis’ adventurous No Sweat (Alchemy ALCD 1009; 68:49). Leading a wild, yet inexplicably tight quartet, the Tribal Tech bassist crafts odd-ball pieces like the heavy, off-timed “Stagger,” and the bubbling “No Sweat,” with tangled Steve Tavaglione sax lines climbing and twisting over Scott Kinsey’s purring electric keyboards. There are expressive beauties here, too, like the softly swinging “The Everlasting Night,” with Willis duetting in the high register with Tavaglione’s EWI, and the resonant “Ancient Promise.” Patient listeners will appreciate how tunes like these and the dark-toned “Easy Street” are given time to develop and grow, affording Willis’ bandmates plenty of exciting solo improv opportunities, but the effort might be lost on those looking for a less demanding listen.

Originally Published