In her first two releases on the Heads Up label, Philadelphia-raised saxophonist Pamela Williams shows streaks of greatness with her soulful, sensual and touching work. Mentored by the late Grover Washington, Jr., Williams’ 1996 Saxtress
, and 1998 Eight Days of Ecstasy
, displayed her many varied moods, but Williams' new release Evolution
, shows a saxophonist that is ready to blossom.
Working with new talent, many record labels control all aspects of a performer's presentation from the length of songs to the choosing of material. Record companies try to mold performers into machines that roll out product at a moments notice. "Evolution
is an appropriate title at this particular time in reference to my musical career, creative freedom and my spirituality," said Williams.
Williams took over three years to make Evolution
, most of it behind closed doors, because she wanted to wait until the project was almost over to let others hear it. She wanted to have the kind of material that she could be proud of, one that would reflect the confidence she has about herself and her career. Williams not only shows her skills on the sax on Evolution
, she also presents herself as a good vocalist on the Latin-flavored track Placero
shows Pamela Williams not only as a musician and vocalist, but how she was influenced throughout her life. "Philadelphia was a good place to learn music because the city's music scene was really happening when I was growing up," she recalls. She remembers Philadelphia International Records (remember the disco song TSOP by Philadelphia International's house band MFSB) and its influence on her career. Performers like The O'Jays, Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, and The Stylistics all helped to influence Williams' early years.
Williams worked with Patti LaBelle's touring band, Teena Marie (who is featured on Evolution
in the song I Am Love
), Prince, Babyface and Chante Moore. She has also performed as a guest in the house bands of Jay Leno and Arsenio Hall.
Of all the people that have influenced Williams in her career, the one that stands out most for her is Grover Washington, Jr. She learned her trade by listening to some of Grover's solos, including his cutting-edge song Mr. Magic
. "Grover laughed when I told him that I would learn how to play the saxophone listening to his records, but it was true," said Williams. "I think that when an artist finds his or her own style, it comes from having several different influences," she said.
Williams has taken her time and molded all her influences into one that is all her own. It's her turn to shine and Evolution
will make her star bright.