Norman Williams And The One Mind Experience - The BISHOP
Norman Williams, alto sax
Allen Pittman, flugelhorn
Paul Arslanian, electric, acoustic piano
Michael Formanek, electric bass,
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : unspecified
Label : Pure Pleasure Records
Original Label : Theresa Records
Recorded at Blossom Studios, San Francisco, CA, October 10, 1976 by David Blossom
Remastered by Ray Staff at Air Mastering, Lyndhurst Hall, London
Originally released in 1976
Reissued in 2021
- Figure Eight
- Terry's Song
- Don't Go 'Way Mad
- Mr. Peabody
- Trane's Paradise
- Ole' Brown
Bishop Norman Williams is an amazing musician. He not only has command of his instrument and music, but a great spirit that reflects a knowledge and love of his people and what they give the world—the same spirit shared by Sachmo, Bird, and Trane. Reign on, Bishop. Michael Howell
Bishop Norman Williams is one of those unique talents in music. He has the gift of being able to say what he wants and at the same time say something always significant. He has many influences because he is open to all of the good music of the world. When you hear him play, you feel that he has assembled all of these “world ideas” in music to speak through his horn. John Handy
It’s time. It’s time for all to hear the Bishop proclaim spiritual truths in his church, the One Mind Temple, dedicated to the spirit of John Coltrane.
The time is also overdue for all to hear the Bishop proclaim musical truths through the medium of his alto saxophone. My first few gigs in 1962 were with the Bishop’s band. I’ll never forget what an inspiration it was for me learning how to play while standing next to the Bishop, who already had it together. I’m sure after hearing the Bishop, you will also agree that his time has come. Eddie Henderson
FULL REVIEW:Rooted in Bebop, Norman “The Bishop” Williams’ alto is a swinging affair “in the Kansas City Charlie Parker tradition”. This debut 1976 recording with The One Mind Experience was to be the first release on the Californian Theresa label – their Pharoah Sanders’ releases being widely recognised – with some 44 years passing before lovingly remastered by Ray Staff and reissued by Pure Pleasure Records. A Theresa partnership that would have Williams working alongside Hadley Caliman, Babatunde Olatunji and Dave Liebman in 1978 on the Bay Area Music Award-winning Theresa album ‘Bishop’s Bag’, for which he is perhaps better known, before a third release, ‘One For Bird’ in 1979 with Pepper Adams.
As we approach the tenth anniversary of his passing it is with celebration that we now unwrap this, his first release, and encounter two original songs penned by the leader, four by pianist/band member Paul Arslanian and one Hal Galper composition from 1971 which opens side A. Together with Pierre Obadi Baynes on drums, Michael Formanek on Electric Bass and Allen Pittman on Flugelhorn, the sextet unleashes the full weight of their energy on the opening Galper piece ‘Figure Eight’, a non-alto sax original that excels here as Williams soars through with Paul Arslanian’s keys lifting each passage to a majestic place. A stand-out piece indeed and with only one drummer!
Arslanian’s ‘Terry’s Song’ is funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter and a wonderful platform for the leader to dazzle, although there is no mistaking whose song this belongs to and pains this writer to discover there are very few releases with Arslanian featured. His writing skills return with ‘Don’t Go ‘Way Mad’, a jazz samba dance-floor monster [did I say this hasn’t seen a rerelease before now?]. We then close the first side with Arslanian’s ‘Christina’, a swinging ballad propped up by Williams’ alto. Delightful.
Flipping the disc over for Arslanian’s last composition, ‘Mr. Peabody’, I’m further convincing myself this is a showcase for Paul Arslanian and question then why there wasn’t more for us to discover. This compelling piece, supported by stunning bass playing by Michael Formanek is on par with Gary Bartz NTU Troop sprinkled with the reverence bestowed on The Headhunters. It’s already a five-star album…
The final two songs are those of the leader; ‘Trane’s Paradise’ nods to the foundation for The One Mind Experience as his own progressive church, the One Mind Temple Evolutionary Body of Christ (renamed St. John Coltrane Church) highlights his devotion to Coltrane, although very much a pity Alice Coltrane herself filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the church in 1981 for “misrepresentation” – he would go on to write songs dedicated to Lee Morgan, Eric Dolphy and Charlie Parker – before ‘Ole’ Brown’ plays the encore. Make no mistake, Williams knew how to pull a tune together, notably having worked alongside Max Roach and Phineas Newborn Jr. The experience and energy truly unfold through the entire album.
As I ponder on how familiar this album sounds, evidence of previous encounters proves embarrassing. There are no tracks featured on any compilation I own, there is no reissue by Evidence Music during their 90s take-over to be found on CD and therefore a proven example of how important this release is, in the music, the mastering and the sense that this needs to be part of our respective collections. I applaud everyone along the journey from the San Fransisco recording date in 1970 to today with even one-time band member, Eddie Henderson, stamping his approval with liner notes. Essential listening feels like an understatement. " Steve Williams
AllMusic : 3 / 5 , Discogs : 4,46 / 5