The Jazzcat

Al Williams Sextet at the LAX Westin Hotel

by on May.15, 2005, under News



Slide Show


It has been quite

some time since I have reported to you from the LAX Westin. Yes, it is

true that I am there every Wednesday night as the master of ceremonies.

However, for me to write about this great music we call “Jazz”, some

elements must be present:


1)      Authenticity – Authenticity must be present. The music must be natural and come from the purest place in each musician.

2)      Excitement

– There needs to be an element of excitement. Great relationships on

the bandstand lead to effortless sound and communication in the music.

3)      Playing – The music cannot just be played, it has to be PLAYED, FELT and HEARD!

4)      Audience

– The audience is a key participant in the music. The band feeds off of

the energy of the audience and positive body movement and applause

contribute greatly to the overall success of the music.




I was extremely glad

to see Al Williams walk up here in the Westin with a group of burners.

These cats believe in high energy, good music and big fun. Set one was

my favorite. Whenever you start off a set with a Thelonious Monk tune,

you know you are in for an evening of  straight

ahead wonder. The sextet played music from Herbie, Art Blakey, Lee

Morgan, Eddie Harris, Benny Golson and the list goes on.


image image


Henry Franklin

contributed a few original pieces with his thunderous and melodic tone

on the bass. It has been quite sometime since I have had a chance to

see “The Skipper” perform and tone and creative lines were just what I

wanted to hear. In the front line was Noland Shaheed on trumpet and

Andre Delano on tenor, alto and soprano. These cats were lighting it up

just like it was the 60’s all over again. Derrick Finch was tingling

the ivorys with al those Herbisms and creating lots of dynamics in his

melodies. Tony Poingsett was turning it out on percussion and of course

the powerful sound of “Mr. Long Beach” himself Mr. Al Williams on drums.




I spent some good

time with Al during the last International Association of Jazz

Educators convention that was held here in Long Beach. It was great to

hear stories about Hampton Hawes and some of the other cats that he has

played with over the years. Al, if you did not already know, is one of

the main cats responsible for bringing jazz to Long Beach. He promotes

the Long Beach Jazz Festival every year and still finds time to get out

and gig with the fellas.




The second and third

sets were all about the Blues. The sound is huge and I am so surprised

that the audience here at the Westin was not up on their feet dancing

around. The Al Williams sextet puts on a great performance so next

time, don’t miss them!


LeRoy Downs


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