Jacksonville Saxophonist and Improvisational Musician Jamison Williams’ Peels Away the Brass on the 38-Minute “Mary Blair”

Jamison Williams press photo
For fans and the curious alike, “Mary Blair” is a good touchstone of Jamison Williams’ (pictured) passion and prowess | Credit: Peter Gannuskin, courtesy of the artist

Saxophonist and multi-reed polymath Jamison Williams continues to uncover a vast realm contained in the proverbial small world within the greater corpus-universe of Walt Disney. Williams is amassing a daunting body of work: dozens of massive and miniature projects, released in various formats from limited-edition lathe cuts and hardcopy books to direct downloads.

Recorded in NYC, “Mary Blair” is his latest, a solo baritone-sax paean to the titular illustrator who, amongst other milestones, was personally commissioned by Walt Disney to create the visual concept for Disney’s contribution to the 1964 World’s Fair. Blair’s ideas would eventually be immortalized for their direct influence on the “It’s a Small World” rides at Disneyland and Disney World.

After a tender, Coleman-Hawkins-hued intro (that wobbles around an “It’s a Small World” melodic figure), at the one-minute mark Williams unleashes a volley of extended horn techniques on the baritone sax, peeling away the brass: split tones, growls, angelic Ayler roars, and a bitstream of manifested ideas that rise and fall in the 38-minute wallop of “Mary Blair.”

At around the nine-minute mark, Williams accelerates into an impressive imprint of the pan-melodicism of “Offering”-era Coltrane, only to return the opening motif—no small task. Williams closes out the whirlwind improvisation with a callback to the main theme, albeit dropped into the guttural low-end register of his horn.

More than a decade ago, the longtime Jacksonville musician ran his +SoLo music space for local and visiting improvisors. He began inviting free jazz heavyweights including Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee and Jack Wright to perform in the area, and his eagerness to both perform and spread the gospel of improvised music has led to him organizing the 50+ improvisor strong The Society of Independent Composers, Inc., a pool of equally prolific legendary and emerging players.

Williams has been living in Luxembourg for some time now; when visiting Northeast Florida he invariably spends his time collaborating and performing. A few years back, this included a worthy concert with Eugene Chadbourne at Sun-Ray Cinema. For fans and the curious alike, “Mary Blair” is a good touchstone of Williams’ passion and prowess. As an executed, heretical hippie once implored: “They who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

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