Darren Williams: Musical Idiot

Warning! screams the cover of Williams' second solo sax album released on the Infidels label

Darren Williams: Musical Idiot

Warning! screams the cover of Darren Williams' Musical Idiot, Williams' second solo saxophone album released on the Infidels Jazz label this February. Warning! This is an improvised solo saxophone album. Okay, warning taken. Or is it: warning, the saxophone can take over your life – that seems to flow more directly from the image on the cover. I grant that too, Williams' mastery is evident in how he has "operated", to quote the album text, his instrument. Or how about warning, this is a face-melting good time, similarly to how the Parental Advisory sticker promised you were about to hear a good rap album in my youth? It's all true, and yet this theme isn't a pretentious one; the title takes the piss out of itself to an appropriate degree.

Clearly-stated Infidels values are emerging release over release, this being the label's seventh or eighth depending on where you slot Musical Idiot with its release-day twin, Bruce Freedman's Collage. Improvised outsider music is working class, self-deprecating. and exciting for someone like me – hey, maybe I'm the musical idiot after all, and that's ok! – to be a fan of. It's not elite, boring, or for the concert hall. It's for Tyrant Studios, where Williams played his release concert, and the gamut of the other Infidels venues. (The phrase Knee Jerk even appears in a track title!)

Williams describes this album as a natural follow-up album to his first solo record Reed, and they are similarly structured as you'd expect. His one instrument has an impressive variety: sometimes it sounds like a skronk guitar, or like Albert Ayler, like Sonny Rollins, like Black Sabbath ("Plastiquitous", to me) as long as you can imagine the drums and the Ozzy kicking in. With circular breathing, Williams can play two parts at once, speak with himself, and make emotional outbursts to shake things up.

Williams did the artwork himself and the CD design himself, just like he is the operator of the sax himself. He recorded the album in Kelowna. He has formerly played with bands including The Sorrow and the Pity, Branchroot Ensemble, and Robots On Fire, and played with improvisers from Han Bennink to our own Torsten Muller and Kevin Romain.

The record's bookend titles set a hopeful context where William says, "I Choose Hope" and "I Still Choose Hope". That's not to say it doesn't rage at the mundane difficulties of the technological world, like "Attachment Unavailable". Though maybe I'm the nerd for thinking that's what it means, email, instead of difficulty with forming relationships. Oh well, it's okay to be a fool and have some fun.

Musical Idiot cover

released Feb. 2, 2024 / Buy CD or digital (Bandcamp) / Available on streaming