Darren Williams




Playing saxophone solo is demanding. Not many players even attempt it. For every Evan Parker or Colin Stetson, there are thousands of other saxophonists who keep things simple and just play in a band. But tenor saxophonist Darren Williams digs the danger. On this nine-track set, he explores two aspects of his chosen horn: circular breathing and overtones. Williams is never silent, not even for a moment, because his breathing technique allows him to keep blowing while he inhales short snorts of air; note-wise, he keeps the music flowing with a continuous flow of two and three note groups.

Which leads to the other thing going on: the overtones, subtle, high sonic artifacts that Williams coaxes out with special embouchure pressures and releases on the mouthpiece and reed. His tunes explore an encyclopedia of scintillating and skronky sounds. Highlights are the sizzling "For Fred Herzog" and the quietist "You Will Stay With Us (for Kenny Doren)." Wild and wooly saxophonistics.

- Glen Hall, Exclaim!


Numbered edition of 200 copies solo CD-R from this saxophone firebrand: Williams is best known for his collaborations with Mats Gustafsson, Eugene Chadbourne and Han Bennink but Reed is a bit of a departure for him and it is a goddamn stone. Williams plays a series of compositions for solo tenor that have all of the spiritual gravity of an Albert Ayler or a David S. Ware while spinning and extrapolating his thought into endless circular breathing routines that give the nod to Evan Parker or Joe McPhee but that somehow sound like no one else. His playing is melodic, dark, dramatic, with a sweep and a grace that is almost classical while firmly grounded in post-Coltrane traditions. The compositions are alternately haunting, uplifting, triumphal and emotionally implosive as Williams breaks through one plateau after the next, peaking again and again with dancing tones, juggling incredible dense microtonally complex patterns that bloom and breed like so much organic life. This is truly the bomb, a tour-de-force of solo alone in the universe reed thought but also some of the best writing for saxophone I have heard in a goddamn age. And what a tone! Simply cannot recommend this monster side enough, hands-down best solo saxophone side in an age – very highly recommended!

- David Keenan / Volcanic Tongue