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Pamela Williams: Eight Days of Ecstacy

Pamela Williams is a rarity among today’s glut of saxophone players-a polished, aggressive performer with a distinctive approach to the tenor, alto, and soprano instruments. The good news on Eight Days of Ecstasy (Heads Up HUCD 3043; 48:15) is that Williams has the opportunity to showcase each of these approaches and techniques; the bad news is that album producer Martin Walters tends to overdress the arrangements, reducing the effort to a mixed bag. Williams holds her own on muscular alto in a punchy funk duet with Gerald Albright’s tenor (“Scarlet”), but her fluid soprano lead is wasted on the washed-out keyboards of “Love in the Afternoon.” Though other drippy arrangements (like “Still in Love”) populate Eight Days, there is redemption for Williams in two revealing highlights. The sparkling, elemental “I’ll Be There for You” sets her soprano against Darnel Alexander and David Booker’s Boyz 2 Men harmonies, and the urban/fusion combo “One of the Cats” finds Williams skipping about on tenor and soprano in a loose urban jazz romp. Following the lead of these fine tracks should make Williams’ next release something special.

Originally Published