1. The Offering
2. TD's Tune
3. Alter Ego
5. The Rock
6. Three-Four Movement
7. Theme from Star Trek
Larry Willis - Piano
Eddie Gomez - Bass
Billy Drummond - Drums
Eric Alexander - Tenor sax (tracks 2, 5, 7)
I tend to associate Larry
Willis with jazz-rock and jazz-fusion. After
all, he played keyboards with Blood, Sweat
and Tears in the 1970s. Yet he has also been
involved with many other styles of music,
including straightforward jazz, hard bop and
free jazz. His versatility is almost as wide
as that of his idol, Herbie Hancock.
On this album he leads a
fairly conventional piano trio, with tenorist
Eric Alexander guesting on three tracks. Willis
is fond of using the sustaining pedal, which
gives his playing an atmosphere of fluidity,
and most of his solos are attractively uncluttered.
Unfortunately some of the tunes are far from
memorable, and seem to float without an anchor.
The first two tracks are like this, with The
Offering based on an ostinato pattern
from Eddie Gomez'z double bass, with a long,
fairly formless drum solo from Billy Drummond,
while TD's Tune has a long bass solo
which, however good Eddie Gomez is, outstays
its welcome. Eddie's habit of humming along
to his solos is distracting.
Things pick up with Alter
Ego - with a melody which is attractive
as well as memorable. Ethiopia is a
pensive piece with Eddie Gomez on bowed bass,
while The Rock is a bright swinger
which lifts the album out of its generally
downbeat mood. Like the first two tracks,
Three-Four Movement is a difficult
tune to pick up, but the Theme from Star
Trek is more familiar and thus easier
to grasp. The album ends with Larry Willis
alone at the piano, playing Duke Ellington's
Melancholia without adornment.
Eric Alexander adds some
excitement to the three tracks where he appears,
contributing his twelve-notes-per-second approach.
Larry Willis tends to be underrated or even
ignored (as he is in some jazz reference books)
but this CD regrettably doesn't do him many
favours, because of those tunes which seem
inaccessible even after several hearings.