Buster Williams, Unalome Review
Unalome: The Spiral Path of Buster Williams’ Enlightenment
In the pantheon of jazz, a mélange of titans, dreamers, and artists exists. Amongst them strides a colossus—Buster Williams— who, in his latest offering, Unalome, crafts an astral journey towards enlightenment, a path tread with soulful harmonies and transcendental melodies.
Drawing from the sacred iconography of Buddhism, Unalome manifests as the audacious embodiment of Buster’s musical journey toward spiritual awakening. His illustrious past, a tapestry woven from jazz collaborations with legends, is revisited through a kaleidoscope of wisdom and experience. It’s a unique blend of reverence and innovation, a sonic odyssey that celebrates today’s jazz whilst honoring roots.
Buster’s jazz acolytes for Unalome harmonize in a grand cosmic ballet. Jean Baylor’s vocals flit about like ethereal whispers, while Bruce’s saxophone echoes with celestial power. The vibraphone resonates with the spiritual timbre of Stefon Harris. George Colligan’s piano passages narrate poetic soliloquies, and Lenny White’s drumbeats punctuate this transcendent discourse like a sacred mantra.
Buster’s evolution as a lyricist in Unalome mirrors a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. Once cocooned in self-doubt, he has now unfurled into a full-fledged lyricist, embracing and embodying his transformation. This is not just growth—it’s a spiritual rebirth, a testament to the enlightenment Unalome seeks to capture.
“Stairways” is the call to this cosmic journey, a siren’s song that gently reels you in. The interplay between Baylor’s wordless vocals and the sax-vibraphone harmony constructs an ascendant path, a stairway to transcendence drawn from Buster’s elegant choices and optimistic melody.
“Estate” is a resplendent pause in this journey to commune with the familiar. Baylor’s creatively textured melody dances across the big, firm bassline that Buster lays as a foundation. The ensemble’s collective spirit is palpable, resonating with a profound understanding of the music and their intentional relationship with it. Another feel change is found with “42nd Street,” which takes a detour into the bustling heart of jazz-influenced R&B. It’s a vibrant, vivacious track where Baylor’s warm vocals meet Colligan’s lush chords, a delightful confluence that belies an organic spontaneity.
The album vibrates with untamed energy in “Tayamisha,” a piece dedicated to Buster’s daughter. It’s an aural catharsis, a moment of joyous abandon that speaks volumes of the ensemble’s collective synergy. “I’ve Got the World on a String” is another unapologetic dive into the lively ocean of straight-ahead jazz. Buster and White’s masterful swing is a lesson in the ethereal subtleties of jazz, an homage to the transformative power of music.
The album segues into contemplation with “In the Middle of a Rainbow,” revealing a more intimate, vulnerable side of Buster. The lyricist emerges, words painting vivid hues in the listener’s heart.
“The Wisdom of Silence” unravels a thread of tranquility. It’s a philosophical inquiry into the power of silence, an exploration of the Buddhist influence. Baylor’s ethereal vocals underline the profound performance of the ensemble, enriching the mantra that pervades the piece.
“Here’s to Life” concludes this ascendant journey with poignant beauty. Baylor’s vocals navigate through the contemplative lyrics and stunning melody, while Buster’s solo flourishes, painting a vivid canvas against the harmonic framework.
Unalome is an album with an inner meaning—it’s a map, a charted course through the spiral path of enlightenment. Each track is a compass, guiding listeners to join Buster and his ensemble on this profound exploration. It’s a testament to Buster’s extraordinary ability to continually push the boundaries of self, of music, and of what it means to be a seeker in an infinite universe of sounds. That’s the short of it!
Connect with Buster Williams: Website |
February 24, 2023
Smoke Sessions Records