A lot of thoughts leap to mind and emerge listening to these 12 tracks new from pianist Gareth Williams. Very well-known but more so perhaps 20 or 30 years ago in the UK modernistic mainstream world particularly in the early career of singer Claire Martin players of Gareth Williams' generation who emerged in the 1990s often get forgotten about given new media's interest (if at all) exclusively in new young acts or by complete contrast ancient mariners recently elevated or unfathomably not yet to the inevitable icon bracket. That's a shame but happens not just only to Williams. It ain't a conspiracy either. Williams sounds better than ever here and acts as a fine reminder of his considerable artistry.
The fiftysomething pianist-composer (born 1968) is with some even more senior players in the alternating presence of the hugely revered Keith Jarrett ''Belonging band'' bass legend from Sweden Palle Danielsson (75) and the great English bassist Chris Laurence (73) known for his work with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor. Before doing anything else take a moment to listen to Danielsson on the track 'Country' on My Song or his work with the much missed Tomasz Stańko on the classic 1997 album Litania.
Short Stories bassist Palle Danielsson above on the beautiful Keith Jarrett composition 'Country' from My Song (ECM) released in 1978 within the sound of the for-the-ages Belonging band
On 'Country' that throb of bass rises up like a new dawning after the cruel darkness of night. And you get something profound here too on Short Stories because Danielsson and Laurence's two approaches are utterly compatible and a joy at the centre of this record feeding off Williams so well. So if you are a fan of the double bass then this album is certainly a treat given their complementary work. Completing the sound is fine fiftysomething man of Kent English drummer Martin France known for his work in recent years with Spin Marvel and Krononaut. Younger players like the brilliant Jon Scott (the new drummer in GoGo Penguin) owe a lot to France.
The Williams originals have a grandeur to them that isn't at all pompous. They are just thought-provoking and often very poignant. On 'For Palle' the bass line draws out the bittersweetness in the melody and amplifies the hints that arise in other contexts. I suppose Williams must have been influenced by John Taylor along the way and sometimes say on his fine soloing again on 'For Palle' that comes through in its florid at times oblique fecundity. Perhaps there is a little of Cedar Walton in his sound as well. The title track, a singular 'Short Story' and certainly a singular trip of the imagination is provided towards the end. Williams sings on 'Too Young To Go Steady' and the Mark Murphy-like quality of his voice is a surprise if you don't already know his fine vocal facility. So many reasons then to get this record. You will simply hate yourself if you don't. SG. Out on 15 July
Updated on 17 July, adding a Short Stories embed