A tribute to the lifetime achievement of the fallen hero.
Tony Williams would be the first to admit that "blues" doesn't always imply sadness, and this concert dedication to the great late drummer has his spirit all over it, even though there's no Williams-penned composition on offer. Rather than sticking to the obvious Tony's NEW LIFETIME cohorts Allan Holdsworth and Alan Pasqua joined forces with the equally gifted rhythm section, came up with new music and embarked on a tour the cream of which, recorded in Europe in May 2007, is gathered here.
Starting with Pasqua's electric piano surge of the title track, the excitement builds on thanks to the easy yet busy swing from Wackerman whose only concession to filling his predecessor's shoes is the drummer's frontal position that allows him both to lead and be led. Of course, that's the gist of all the fusion, and here's the reason why three numbers from NEW LIFETIME's debut, "Believe It", sound so fresh: "Proto-Cosmos" spacey and liquid, "Fred" a transparent flow with Haslip's bass bobbing under its rippled surface, and "Red Alert" funky and quirky, sharp and bursting at the aural seams when the groove overspills.
The genuine continuation of what was before comes in form of the new quartet's joint composition "It Must Be Jazz", where Holdsworth's guitar pulls a thread for the rest to hang on and shoot off from - from tight and speedy to loose and slow - and another guitar-based mid-tempo jive, "Pud Wud", while the tremendous reading of Allan's "Looking Glass" provides ample space for Alan to improv-wander. Still, the two veterans are at their most vertigionous in the unfathomable lyrical swirl of "San Michele" - it's there, in its spare, rarefied air, that the real blues lies. Blues like this was the life force for Tony Williams, which means what's preserved for posterity here is rather a celebration than tribute.