By '75, Williams had signed with a new label, pieced together a New Tony Williams Lifetime, and moved in a little more conventional jazz-rock direction. But unlike so many fusion records of the time, Believe It managed to be powerful without the bombastic pyrotechnics of bands like Return to Forever.
The better of the two albums the Tony Williams Lifetime recorded in 1970, Turn It Over, is a far more focused and powerful album than the loose, experimental Ego, and one of the more intense pieces of early jazz-rock fusion around. In parts, it's like Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys with much better chops. It's more rock-oriented and darker-hued than their debut, 1969's Emergency!, and the temporary addition of ex-Cream member Jack Bruce on bass and vocals alongside stalwart guitarist John McLaughlin makes this something of a milestone of British progressive jazz.
All of the recordings by Tony Williams' hard bop quintet of the late '80s/early '90s are worth owning. Trumpeter Wallace Roney, Billy Pierce (on tenor and soprano), and pianist Mulgrew Miller offered consistently satisfying solos, bassist Charnett Moffett was excellent in support, and the drummer-leader constantly pushed his sidemen; in concert his "support" could nearly drown out the soloists. For this 1988 studio session, Williams contributed nine originals including "Pee Wee" from his days with Miles Davis. The music is generally straight-ahead and full of passion.
Herbie Hancock's second album released under this title, 1982's The Herbie Hancock Trio features the pianist backed by his fellow former Miles Davis alum, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams. As with the trio's 1977 debut, the 1982 outing finds the group reuniting for a set of standards and originals. This is swinging, sophisticated jazz done in a straight-ahead style. Recorded at CBS/Sony Shinanomachi Studio, Tokyo, Japan on July 27, 1981 by Sony PCM-1600 Digital Recording System.
Although a bit underrated, drummer Tony Williams Quintet was one of the top hard bop units of the late '80s. Williams' originals (he contributed all seven of the compositions to this CD) gave his group a fresh repertoire, and his rather loud drumming really forced trumpeter Wallace Roney, Billy Pierce (on tenor and soprano), pianist Mulgrew Miller, and the alternating bassists Ira Coleman (who would soon become the group's only permanent member) and Bob Hurst to play with all of the energy and volume they could muster. This date is easily recommended to fans of the more adventurous side of straight-ahead jazz.
This would be the drummer's last recording, cut six months before he died. It shows Williams in a more conciliatory mood, sublimating his huge chops and bombastic style for subtler shadings and support for pianist Mulgrew Miller and bassist Ira Coleman, while lessening none of his indefatigable swing. This was also the last band Williams toured with, indicating he was committed to and comfortable with the acoustic piano-bass-drums format. It's a setting he had never really fully exploited over his years of leadership, no doubt inspired by the Herbie Hancock-Ron Carter partnership within the Miles Davis quintet of the mid-'60s.
The follow-up to Believe It should have been titled "I Can't Believe It." Fans who were so impressed with the first recording must have checked the personnel listing here several times for accuracy. Like many of the fusion stars of the '70s, the eventual sellout to disco/funk became inevitable for drummer Tony Williams.