William Ash Trio

The Phoenix

Smalls Records - #SRCD-0006

William Ash, guitar; Dwayne Burno, bass; Mark Taylor, drums

Tunes: Originals by Ash - Bill's Groove, Crystal Bird, Koba, Moon Shine, It, Parker's Rhythm, All in All and Celery. Other compositions on the CD - The Sidewinder, by Lee Morgan; Constellation, by Charlie Parker, and Bewitched, by Rodgers and Hart.

This is a brilliant CD by the Jazz guitarist William Ash. William Ash is an interesting guitarist to listen to, because he has a wide range of dynamics, virtuosity and emotion. Charlie Parker, Barry Harris and Clarence "C" Sharpe were huge influences on Ash. As C Sharpe would say, "Be about it."

Smalls Records is connected to the club Smalls that recently closed down (it was on 10th Street and 7th Avenue) in Greenwich Village. William was a regular performer there, and continues to play at nightclubs and restaurants in the Apple, and also travels to Japan and elsewhere.

"Bill's Groove" - The first cut gets you going. It's a swinging tune in the fashion of Wes Montgomery. Ash kind of tosses it off, but with a feeling of urgency. Without a care in the world, he moves it along, totally living the music.

"Crystal Bird" is a 6/8 Latin tune, but soft and serious, with the drummer doing some great cymbal work.

"Koba" starts out sounding like a blues, but itís deceptively long in form, and interesting harmonically, in that it changes keys. After a compelling guitar solo, Burno shines on the bass.

"The Sidewinder" is a great rendition of the Lee Morgan standard. Ash captures the essence of the tune easily, and itís a finger-snapper. The bassist and drummer are in perfect tune with each other on the rhythm, a boogaloo.

Ash gently plays "Bewitched" in a sensitive manner. Constructing simple chords on the guitar with the melody standing out on top, Ash creates a sophisticated atmosphere, and puts in his own ideas beautifully.

Listening to Bird's "Constellation," I think of Clarence "C" Sharpe, who was a big influence on William (and a friend of mine as well). This was his break tune, and I love it played like this, at extremely rapid speed.

The other songs are filled with rhythmic kicks and swinging solos. Definitely "The Phoenix" is a CD worth repeated listening.

by Lucy Galliher

New Sounds - February 2005

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