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Whit Williams: “Now’s the Time” Big Band Featuring Slide Hampton and Jimmy Heath

It is no doubt true, as Washington, D.C., jazz DJ Rusty Hassan writes in his liner notes to this album, that the U.S. is full of great regional musicians “who would have been even more famous had [they] moved to New York, but for reasons of family considerations decided to remain” in their hometowns. It is probably also true that, to justify recording these musicians, it is necessary to match them with other great musicians who did move to New York and become even more famous. Such is the case here, as veteran bandleader and reed player Whit Williams, a Baltimore fixture, is teamed up with Slide Hampton and Jimmy Heath.

Although Williams names his big band (17 pieces including four trumpets, four trombones and six saxophones, plus rhythm section) after the Charlie Parker standard, his musical approach is closer to the traditional swing of Ellington and Basie than bebop. The disc is essentially divided between the featured players, Heath writing or arranging and playing on the first half, Hampton on the second.

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