Huw V Williams, Llonyddiaeth

Naked double bass or a pyjama game. Huw V Williams is one of the top jazz bassists to have emerged in the last decade. I make that claim on the basis of Hon (2016). He goes further and my admiration for him goes deeper as he scales Snowdonia here …

Published: 23 Feb 2021. Updated: 13 days.

Naked double bass or a pyjama game. Huw V Williams is one of the top jazz bassists to have emerged in the last decade. I make that claim on the basis of Hon (2016). He goes further and my admiration for him goes deeper as he scales Snowdonia here without any ropes on a solo double bass record made in Lockdown circumstances recently. Against the odds it works. Mainly because Williams makes his improvisations communicate. This stands up well with hearing Eberhard Weber pull off a solo bass feat many years ago at a concert on the South Bank. Williams does not really use a lot of technology, unlike that great Garbarekian's approach who embellished what he was doing by playing over self-triggered real time loops. It's instead completely stripped back and the sound quality isn't even anything to write home about not that it really matters when the playing is as good as here (it just needs to be newly mastered). 'Cor' however has a hazy 'tronic haze of a drone behind the solo line at first which is more than a guide note, almost achieving odd as it may sound in the context a kind of tintinnabulation. Don't shoot me if Google Translate's renderings of the Welsh language titles are lost in translation or wrong, the title, no gloss is provided, may mean 'literature', 'Neidio' may be 'Jump', 'Ail-ddyfniaeth' 'Second worldness'. It's not an exaggeration to say that Williams seems the complete artist even if you might think uncharitably that this album is an extension of thinking out loud. Some beautiful playing develops. A Dave Holland in the making? Yes. Williams' plucking action and rhythmic flair are at the heart of his strength and turbo charges his art. The arco passages go free and into the feeling. You can tell on a record like this because time after time Williams finds the ''one'' at the heart of each piece and part of why Holland is the greatest and why Williams is well on his way going Dutch. Next time he may pull on all his musical clothes over his pyjamas yet this is fine and something else. SG. Huw V Williams, top. Photo: Bandcamp

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Julian Bliss septet, I Got Rhythm

While the promo presentation, artwork and approach seems let's be frank a little staid that isn't what's most important and there is a reason for it. And that reason is that the release is aiming at classical fans of jazz and appears on a classical …

Published: 22 Feb 2021. Updated: 14 days.

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While the promo presentation, artwork and approach seems let's be frank a little staid that isn't what's most important and there is a reason for it. And that reason is that the release is aiming at classical fans of jazz and appears on a classical label. Of course the style is a retrospective glance at a classic era. Caveats on the table duly established for the surface considerations as for substance there is nothing at all staid or straight about the performance by the Julian Bliss septet. While the leader is a stellar classical player who has good jazz chops the band all out-rank Bliss in the sense that they are largely specialist jazz players. The important thing to note is this isn't a classical leader dabbling in jazz. Probably vibist Lewis Wright (Empirical) and trumpeter Martin Shaw are the best known of this stellar band to UK jazz fans while of course Bliss is more famous to UK classical fans. Good to see the UK scene's very own Christian McBride bassist Tim Thornton playing in the band too. Musicianship is higher up here than just juggling star power as an almost final word.

But before heading off for further listening and noting that attention to detail in terms of the sound and A&R-ing is first class the label is now doing what Telarc did in its heyday in that sense referred to earlier of selling jazz to classical lovers from classical turf. How classical is sold to jazz lovers from jazz turf may be far more difficult and only ECM really know how to do this via the New Series not that the two communities are necessarily separate at all although they sometimes divide into two camps through trends.

Rhythm changes have been very important in modernist jazz styles since the 1930s, 40 and 50s. Gershwin is like Shakespeare. Records like I Got Rhythm keep us grounded as the veneer is stripped off and we can get down to the nitty gritty of the sounds themselves just as listening to Charlie Parker regularly also does especially if tackled faithfully. So music for the concert hall more than the club in this incarnation nonetheless a must listen for all of the above reasons as you will discover if this evening you faithfully dive straight in. SG
Out now. Julian Bliss, top. Photo: Signum Classics