ben williams & sound effect at the jazz gallery - NYC, aug 20

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

Whoever listened to Ben Williams’ music knows how remarkably infectious are his grooves, whether on acoustic or electric bass, and how well wrought are his compositions.
Mostly drawing from his sophomore album, “Coming of Age”, Williams and his Sound Effect band, gave an excellent performance at the Jazz Gallery, transferring all their contagious energy to a very supportive audience.
This memorable concert was part of the 21st anniversary celebration of the emblematic New York venue.
Joining the bandleader on the bandstage were Marcus Strickland on tenor and soprano saxophones, Christian Sands on piano, Alex Wintz on guitar (replacing the formidable Matthew Stevens), John Davis on drums, and Brevan Hampden on percussion (replacing Etienne Charles).
The band initiated the second set with a tune whose powerful head had a scent of rock, shifting to smoother breezes for the improvisations by Williams, who allies rhythm and melody in a soulful way, and then Strickland, who fascinated me with his in-and-out concept.
“Dawn of a New Day”, retrieved from William’s debut album “State of Art”, felt like a ballad but evinced that inevitable, unchained groove as the foundation. This time, for the solos, the bassist had the company of Sands, who excelled, and Wintz, who impressed me more on the comping side.
In “Half Steppin’”, a provocative funk-rock, Williams swaps the acoustic bass for the electric, while Strickland holds the tenor instead of the soprano saxophone. Strongly marked by Hampden’s congas and Davis’ taut drumming, this song would fit in any dance club that relies on quality music.
Williams gives a recital of musicality and magical embellishment while playing solo the Nirvana’s grunge hit “Smells Like a Teen Spirit”. The band members, who had abandoned the bandstage to let the bassist shine, returned to finish the show with “Toy Soldiers”, a triumphant march that efficaciously flows at the sound of John Davis’ lofty snare drum rolls.
With liveliness and determination, Ben Williams & Sound Effect showed the wonderful stuff they can create and the bright future they have ahead…