Standout Track: No. 4, “Ambivalence.” The gently swinging, midtempo tune is shaped by its haunting chords, which move (courtesy Noble Jolley’s piano and Eric Wheeler’s bass, with drummer Nate Jolley providing the swing) through different moods seemingly with each beat: sadness, nostalgia, introspection, joy, and, yes, ambivalence. J.S. Williams’ trumpet meanders atop them in a clear but restrained tone that seems to take on each of those moods.
Musical Motivation: “Those are the chords I chose to express just how somebody would feel if they’re not quite sure of their next step,” says Williams. He created the piece during just such a quandary: trying to decide the direction his album should go next. “My head was going in a million different places and I just had to put it down on paper,” he says. Ultimately, he used the song as a bridge between more traditional tracks and a funkier vibe.
Troop Movements: A native New Yorker, Williams left the jazz mecca in 2005 to join the U.S. Marine Band at Quantico. He stayed in the area after his 2009 discharge to be close to his mother, who retired to Woodbridge. He frequently works with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and at HR-57’s weekly jam sessions. But Williams’ final destination is uncertain: He’s currently earning his Ph.D. in music education, after which the academic job market could take him anywhere—as could the music itself. “No matter where I end up, I’ll just be hitching, getting on the bus, going to different cities to share this love of music I have,” he says. “That’s what I feel like I’m here for.”
Listen to the song after the jump.
J.S. Williams performs May 16 at Columbia Station.