On the heels of a busy year of sideman work with Kris Bowers, Cory Henry, and principally José James, with whom he recorded the critically acclaimed While You Were Sleeping (Blue Note), emerging guitarist Brad Allen Williams announces the release of his debut LP Lamar.
In a deceptively bold departure from current vogue, Williams and bandmates Pat Bianchi (Hammond organ) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums) largely eschew overt high concept or purposeful displays of technical or harmonic virtuosity in this set. “This album is exclusively about creating and capturing a feeling, and this is reflected not just in the choice of material and musicians, but also in the way I produced the album, and the recording techniques we chose.”
Indeed, the all-analog nature of Lamar stands out as unique. “The vinyl release of this will have never touched a computer at all. It was recorded with the three of us in one great-sounding room together using the best analog tape machines and a great analog engineer. The decision to opt for this process was a musi-
cal one. From my work as a producer, I’ve become convinced that most often the humanity lies in the little hiccups; the little mistakes. Too often contemporary recording techniques allow us to go in and sanitize things to satisfy our ego— our desire to airbrush the blemishes out to present the best possible version of ourselves. It’s human nature to want to do that, but the problem is, the listeners respond to, and relate to, the tiny flaws that reveal our humanity. Tiny things that seem egregious to the musicians themselves are only audible to the audience as a subconscious sort of warmth and honesty. That’s the stuff I wanted to protect.
“The analog recording and mix process is just a way to enforce that. It makes you ask yourself ‘Is this really getting in the way of the music?’ 99.9% of the time it’s not—in fact, it’s better than that; it’s human, it’s real, and it’s evocative. It makes you less likely to sacrifice the moment for the sake of present-
ing... not a performance exactly, but sort of a highly-retouched showcase of instrumental skill. I’m bored of that. I wanted to trust the moment and make recordings of performances.”
The album’s palette may seem a bit of a departure to those who follow Williams’s sideman work (Ann Powers of NPR compared his playing on While You Were Sleeping to both Jimi Hendrix and The Edge), but the direction on Lamar is supremely honest. “This group was borne out of years of this trio playing together in various configurations. Those familiar with Tyshawn’s more visible work, or with my more visible work, might be a little surprised to hear us this way, but I think these are our roots, all of us. I feel proud to have captured that on a gorgeous-sounding, high-fidelity analog record, and with such high-level musicianship from my collaborators.”