Bassist Buster Williams earned his stripes before he was 21, backing Gene Ammons, Betty Carter, and Sarah Vaughan, then found a completely different audience when he brought his polished technique and chestnut tone to Herbie Hancock’s electric music of the late 60s and early 70s. It says a lot that when Ron Carter formed a band led by his own bass, he chose Buster Williams for the rhythm section behind him. Williams’s experience encompasses not only bop and fusion but also the progressive mainstream of the 80s and 90s (as heard on the handful of albums under his own name). He drew from throughout that range for the sparkling 1996 recording Somewhere Along the Way (TCB), whose roster closely approximates the generation-spanning quartet he brings to town next week. Both feature baby-faced vibraphonist Stefon Harris, a remarkable improviser, and fusion-era drummer Lenny White, who has quietly remade himself as a well-rounded player of many other styles. Harris bridges the two dominant streams of modern vibraphone playing: a pianistic sound best represented by Gary Burton, and the blues-based style of the hard-bop mainstream, exemplified by Bobby Hutcherson. A teenage White debuted in 1969 on Miles Davis’s legendary Bitches Brew. Filling out the quartet is Patrice Rushen, an accomplished keyboardist who buried her skills under pop fluff in the 70s but who ought to blossom playing with the other strong musicians in this band. Tuesday through Thursday, April 13 through 15, 8 and 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, April 16 and 17, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, April 18, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.