What Would I Be Without You
01. What Would It Be Without You 4:40
02. Blue Trane 6:05
03. Crucificado 6:50
04. Parting 8:15
05. The Lady 4:20
06. Nice And Easy (Such A Lovely Lady) 6:38
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Monty Waters
Bass – Ronnie Boykins
Congas, Recorded By, Mixed By – Rashied Ali
Drums – George Avaloz
Guitar – Ryo Kawasaki
Leader, Vocals – Joe Lee Wilson
Recorded at: Studio 77, 77 Greene St, N.Y.C. 10012
Part of Rashied Ali's Survival label reissue series. "It's hard to believe that What Would I Be Without You is the first US release from this great jazz vocalist. This 1977 recording is a long overlooked jazz gem highlighted with a warmth reminiscent of the best of jazz offerings. Working with a band featuring Monty Waters on sax, Ryo Kawaski on guitar, Ronnie Boykins on bass, George Avaloz on drums and Rashied Ali on congas; he has created a timepiece that remains a classic."
Vocalist Joe Lee Wilson, along with Leon Thomas, had the ability to vocalize with some of the most intense avant-garde jazz musicians: Wilson with Archie Shepp, and Thomas with Pharoah Sanders. Proof of Wilson's power is heard on Shepp's early '70s politically motivated dates on Impulse: Things Have Got to Change, The Cry of My People, and Attica Blues. The power from those dates unfortunately didn't translate into What Would It Be Without You, an early solo effort originally released on Rashied Ali's Survival label in 1975 and later reissued in 2000 on Knit Classics. Backing up Wilson on this session are free jazz stalwarts Ronnie Boykins on bass, Rashied Ali on congas, George Avaloz on drums, Monty Waters on alto and soprano sax, and Ryo Kawasaki on guitar. While this lineup creates exciting music, at times it has a tendency to overpower Wilson, making his delivery especially strained. The most cohesive vehicle between these players is the vocal version of Coltrane's "Blue Train" in which no one steps on the other, creating a much-needed united performance. Since Wilson is better suited as a guest than a leader, it's advisable to seek out the above-mentioned Shepp sessions for some of his best work.