The Bernie Williams Band lit up the larger Hart Theatre at the Egg in Albany last Saturday with their infectious blend of salsa and Latin rhythms. And the 500 or so fans in attendance continually voiced their appreciation – not only for the evening’s music, but also for Williams’ former exploits as an outfielder with the New York Yankees.
This latter sidelight was punctuated by periodic shout-outs of updates of the score in the Yankees’ game that night, which happened to be in the same time-slot as the concert. Williams noted at one point that in his experience playing music was very different from playing baseball – while both require great sacrifice to become successful, ultimately becoming a great musician also requires that you be attentive to your audience, open your heart and show emotion; something he admittedly was often guilty of not doing as a ballplayer.
But Williams was definitely up to the challenge of playing music and indeed enjoying it, even to the extent of telling his audience at one point they were being too quiet. And, the audience loved it.
While classically proficient, Bernie Williams’ guitar playing can be soulful and passionate. The eight-piece backing band included multiple percussionists, keyboards, horns and guitars. And many of them offered up energetic solos during the course of the evening – notably Spyro Gyra guitarist Julio Fernandez, former Billy Joel saxman Richie Cannata, and trumpeter Don Harris – adding plenty of dynamic support to Williams’ musical heart.
Review and photographs by Albert Brooks
David Malachowski’s review at The Times Union