A Timeless Journey of Jazz
THEN & NOW
Our latest album THEN & NOW just released and is available on a broad variety of streaming platforms worldwide. Including Amazon Music, iTunes, Spotify, and more.
Discover the inspiration for this music and each of the songs in the ABOUT section of this site. Also included are the people and places that helped make this possible.
Go to the MUSIC PLAYER to hear samples of each of the selections.
THEN & NOW, the music of jazz, like any true art form, finds its roots in the struggles and joys of life from generations past.
Back THEN, the music was translated from the heart, through discipline, and inspired improvisations of great musicians, composers, and the vocal stylings of the great ones. Yet, jazz was always destined to transcend the clubs, and speakeasies of old, to reach beyond its American birthplace.
This music is NOW discovered by, performed by, and reinvented by, nearly every culture worldwide, in all its forms. No matter the ethnicity, language spoken, or location in the world. All this, while still connected to the spirit of its original roots.
THEN & NOW is a collection of songs that are both familiar, and new. Presented masterfully by Al Williams Jazz Society to illustrate both the timelessness and evolution of the experience we call jazz. Like all great art, this music will be interpreted uniquely by each who hears it. In the following sections, discover the inspiration for each of the songs.
album liner notes by
1. Society Al: This tune was written by band member Doug Webb. The groove reflects my days of playing with Eddie Harris. Doug captures it well.
2. The Chant: This song is a means of soulful musical expression while staying within the same chord structures. This song was inspired by the hard bop of today.
3. The Greatest Love of All/Hero: This goes back to two of my favorite pop ballads of all time. Every time the band performs, we end by telling the audience to love themselves so they can love their neighbor. Our message ties in so well with “The Greatest Love of All” performed by Whitney Houston and “Hero” performed by Mariah Carey that I felt the songs needed to be merged.
4. Funky Lou: We tried to get the feel of funk from jazz saxophonist Lou Donaldson.
5. Little Sunflower: I have loved this tune for years and played it many times with Freddie Hubbard. When I called Najee, he was more than excited to join us. Najee’s monstrous counter-melody adds a new and unique dimension. Many thanks to my brother Najee.
6. Everything Must Change: I knew the composer, Benard Ighner I fell in love with this ballad immediately when he performed this song at my club, Jazz Safari. This new arrangement makes it a perfect fit for this album.
7. Desert Trippin’: This was a collaboration with George Shaw. The name was inspired while relaxing in the desert with my friend Stephen who first mentioned the phrase. I knew then that the music described the moment.
8. Blakey’s Delight: I wrote this for my mentor, the late great Art Blakey. I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with him when he played at my club, Birdland West. It was the highlight of my musical life. This song is a tribute to his greatness.
9. Sandy Smiles: We were rehearsing this tune written by George Shaw, but we didn’t have a name for it. My wife Sandy walked into the room and started moving to the music with this great smile as she listened. We knew then, the name of this one had to be Sandy Smiles.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
Keyboards on “Sandy Smiles”
Bass on “Sandy Smiles”
Najee, special guest
Flute on “Little Sunflower”
Al Williams and George Shaw
Nolan Shaheed's Recording Studio
George Shaw and Al Williams
Art Direction/Liner Notes:
James Rankin, Light Space and Time, LLC
Cover Photograph: Lacy Smith Photography
Musical Home: One thing that adds to the feel and sound of this album is the environment where it was recorded. Nolan Shaheed’s studio is so warm, that it seems like you’re playing to a live audience. He opened his studio while he was still in the band. Nolan was in my band for about twenty years. He is also a master trumpet player in his own right and has played with just about everybody. I don’t want to do a tune that’s not recorded in Nolan Shaheed's Recording Studio.
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Special Thanks To:
Century 22 Productions and George Shaw for your undying commitment.
Nolan Shaheed for your great sounds. Ken and Ann Ebert for all you do and more.
Bill and Evie Farnell for all your support.
Cary Hardwick and Laurie Sisneros, Owners, and John “Q” Quigley, Entertainment Director, at Spaghettini in Seal Beach for a great musical relationship.
My wife and family for your amazing support.
Dedicated to the loving memory of Ms. Regina Chaney
To my incredible fans for all your support throughout the years.
What a wonderful journey we share.
Love to all,