Bradley Williams & His Original 21st Century Review | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bradley Williams & His Original 21st Century Review 

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Despite the reference to the next century, this is not a thematic "revue" but an actual review, and it has nothing to do with music of the future. Rather, it uses the millennium's imminent arrival as an excuse to look back at the past century's musical styles--in particular those in which popular music merged or collided with the jazz so close to pianist Bradley Williams's heart. On his new Songs for Swinging Sophisticates, Volume 1 (on Williams's own Sideways Entertainment label) these idioms include vaudeville, the show tunes of the 30s and 40s, bossa nova, and even the jazzy pop of Bill Withers, whose 1972 hit "Use Me" benefits greatly from Williams's arrangement, inspired by 60s funk and King Sunny Ade. Eclectic? Hell yes, and when Williams initiated this project back in 1995, that in itself seemed its raison d'etre. But the new album reveals how much his concept has grown--and how effectively he now juggles the band's competing styles and wealth of resources, which includes reedists Richie Fudoli and Tim McNamara, exciting young trumpeter Tito Carillo, big-soul singer Penny Jeffries, and the liquid vocals of Gingi Lahera. Williams spreads the music generously around the versatile 11-piece ensemble, but it's his own sporty and genial piano work that gives the enterprise its focus and personality. Friday, 9:30 PM, Green Dolphin Street, 2200 N. Ashland; 773-395-0066. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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