Buster Williams Announces New Album, “Unalome”

Buster Williams: UnalomeJazz bass icon Buster Williams celebrated his 80th birthday in April, and over his eight decades he’s continually grown. In fact, he’s still growing, which is part of the meaning behind his newly announced album, Unalome. “Unalome” is a lotus flower-topped symbol that represents “individual transcendence and the path to enlightenment over the course of one’s life.”

“It seemed to express perfectly the mood or the collective spirit of the music on this particular project,” Williams states. “I believe that your life should be a succession of steps, and that those steps should be along an ascending path.”

Unalome, which will be released on February 24th, features the bassist with his longtime bandmates George Colligan and Lenny White as well as saxophonist Bruce Williams and vibraphonist Stefon Harris. The band is also joined by singer Jean Baylor, who delivers beautiful vocals over standards and originals.

“In The Middle of a Rainbow” is a new ballad that Williams penned. While the melody had been with him for a while, he dreamed up the lyrics on the way to the studio. Putting words to music has been another step on his musical growth.

“I used to think that I couldn’t write lyrics,” he says. “I wouldn’t even try. But when I wrote the title track and ‘Air Dancing’ for [the 1989 album] ‘Something More,’ lyrics started coming to me. I don’t put barriers up anymore to say, ‘I can’t do this.’ I’d rather say, ‘Up till now I haven’t.’ Rather than, you know, I can’t. That’s been part of my growth, and it’s very refreshing because it lets me know that doors are not locked. Doors are there to be opened.”

The rest of Unalome includes more Williams originals, including a reprise of “Tayamisha” from his 1975 album Pinnacle and jazz standards like “Estate” and “I’ve Got The World on a String.” Williams reflects on the new album and his musical journey with positivity and optimism.

“As I get older, I discover that there’s more over the horizon than you think,” he declares. “The horizon may look like the end, but the closer you get the more you realize that you’ll never reach it. What you can see from where you are seems to be limited, but with each step you see more and more.”

Unalome will be available February 24, 2023. Anyone unfamiliar with Williams should watch the documentary Buster Williams: Bass to Infinity.

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