This is very nice! Saxophonist Willie Akins and his quartet from St. Louis sent along his "Alima" CD for review. Akins has been on the scene for 40 years and for unknown reasons, he has never become a household name among jazz fans. His command of the tenor sax is fabulous Willie is always in control of the instrument unlike some players who seem to allow the horn to control the musician. His relaxed style is never boring and the tunes on the CD form a wide spectrum of styles from Gershwin's "Summertime," Sam Coslow's "Just One More Chance," Horace Silver's "Pretty Eyes", McCoy Tyner's "You Taught My Heart To Sing" and Sam River's "Beatrice". Akins throws in three of his own compositions including "Theme For Oliver," "Hey Baby" and "Alima".
The leader is backed up by pianist, Simon Rowe, who plays beautifully throughout the session. Rowe, not unlike Count Basie, leaves spaces which are equally as important as the notes he lays down. Very tasteful!
Drummer Montez Coleman is at home in both mainstream and bop genres. His work on this album is exciting and full of surprises. You won't fall asleep between this drummer's unexpected rim shots and pleasant breaks. Willem von Hombracht is a versatile bassist and plays a 60 minute ball game. He ties the session together with his strings.
I have no idea why none of these fine players are listed in the Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Akins has shared the stage with Freddie Hubbard, Jay McShann, Oliver Nelson, Al Grey and Julius Hemphill. I'd like to hear more from this nice combo in the future.