The Jazzcat

Larry Willis Trio at the Jazz Bakery

by on Jul.27, 2004, under News


Additional Photos


a stellar performance by the world's great gentleman of jazz, Larry

Willis, Buster Williams and Ben Riley. I was so tired on Sunday night.

I had been running around all week and this is the last night, the last

set and the last opportunity for me to see the Larry Willis Trio. These

are some of the finest players in the business and collectively, these

cats have such a rich jazz history, they are jazz history! They have

played with the greats from Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson,

Cannonball, Stan Getz, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Bobby Hutcherson,

Kenny Barron, to Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. I

really do not need to say much more than that, other than they make an

outstanding, beautifully sounding cohesive trio, and I am glad to have

had the experience.


Larry is at the piano just relaxing. It seems as

if he is just enjoying the show and his fingers automatically take over

and do all of the work. A fine tuned precision piano master. Talk about

to ultimate professional. Larry introduces his team in such a

gentlemanly fashion. With style, poise and grace on Bass and Drums is

Buster Williams and Ben Riley.


Larry gives much praise to Ruth Price, the

audience and all of the supporters of the music. He credits tonight’s

audience of his last night at the Bakery with being small but, mighty

as well as recognizing its intelligence. Larry is humble, honest and

quite the humorous character.


He composed a tune called “Ethiopia”

which is based not necessarily on his travels but, on the pictures and

visions that we all have about the extremely tough conditions of that

country. A beautiful tune for such a sad state of affairs.


I love the bow and Buster Williams speaks so very

well on it. He makes it sound like it was Nina Simone singing with

crooning with each glide across the strings. Music so passionate, that

you not only hear it audibly but, you physically feel it as you

emotions take you on a cerebral journey. Music comes from emotion and

experience and these players have been creating all of those sounds

that we take so much for granted.


Ben Riley has played and traveled all over the

world and his love for the music is expressed in his masterful playing.

I asked him where his favorite place to play jazz was in the world and

he replied without hesitation, “New York City”.

That answer right there tells you that this America art form, created

for us and by us still remains the focal point of the universe for jazz



Audibly sharing the talents of this wonderful trio

make us become one with them and the music. It bonds us together

emotionally where their travels become our travels, their challenges

become our challenges, their triumphs become our triumphs. We are one.


Larry and Ben leave the stage for Buster to

perform solo. If you close your eyes, you are under his power. Everyone

in the trio has this affect. If you give up control and take the

journey, you are immersed in the finest details of your imagination.

There is no need to abuse any substances to get high, smoke this


It is warm, beautiful, natural, peaceful and

essential for life. Jazz music in its finest form, the Larry Willis

Trio. The new cd is called, “Santuary” on Mapleshade records and it

will make you love somebody. Buy the disc and spread the love!



LeRoy Downs



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