Kate Williams

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Reviews of Kate Williams


06/11/2014 John Fordham

British pianist/composer Kate Williams makes the kind of jazz albums few younger players attempt these days, let alone pull off with such aplomb – full of graceful storytelling themes and uptempo swing, delicate piano breaks glowing with a Bill Evans hue, bebop horn solos over nimble walking grooves. This is an elegant set of originals for her classy septet, including the flute virtuoso Gareth Lockrane and powerful tenor saxist Alex Garnett. The memorable title track appears in both trio and septet versions, the former opening on an almost Maiden Voyage-like chordal undertow, before pursuing Williams’s patiently wayward melody. Her cool, shapely and sometimes nimbly mischievous writing constantly informs this set – with uptempo tracks such as Duped shifting from a clipped, brightly ascending horn theme to a series of slick solos over walking grooves, tone-poems such as the beautiful Moonset, featuring Gil Evans-like sound mists, and the haunting Ballad for Mr H making full use of Lockrane’s lustrous bass-flute sound. The one cover, Harold Arlen’s My Shining Hour, is given something of the self-conscious perkiness of a 1960s TV science-show theme, but for the most part, Williams’s lyricism, polish and subtle touch make this one of her most accomplished and personal ventures.


01/09/2011 Chris Ingham, Mojo

Made Up is a striking summation and reflection of Kate Williams' singular gifts. With trio, quartet and quintet albums behind her, she stretches to a seven-piece for her fourth album and the expanded palette of sounds is a thrilling vehicle for her evolving and unusual musical imagination. She deftly exploits the timbral possibilities of Gareth Lockrane's flute, Julian Siegel's bass clarinet, Ben Somers' tenor saxophone and Steve Fishwick's trumpet on a series of witty, eccentric charts, full of enchanting compositional twists and fertile arrangement ideas. The set ranges from the almost comically quirky Climbing Up Falling Down and the elegiac Untitled Peace Piece to the twisted samba For Eliane and the epic title track. The playing is first-class throughout with drummer Tristan Mailliot particularly in tune with every nuance of Williams' tumbling invention.


01/07/0008 Peter Quinn, Jazzwise

This fourth album from pianist/composer Kate Williams is the first to feature her new quintet, and quite a band it is too. The singular talents gathered here demonstrate complete empathy with the leader’s circuitous narratives, their nuanced approach handling the trickiest time changes with practised ease. Williams certainly makes the most of her expanded sound palette – her previous three releases were either quartet or trio settings – with the Lockrane/Kaldestad front line opening up all kinds of new contrapuntal possibilities. These are most clearly evidenced in the harmonised melodic lines of the propulsively rhythmic opener ‘Elements of Five’, the angular ‘Chapter 24’ and the bracing ‘Something About April’. If ‘Silhouette’ occupies the same inward-looking, hymnal quality so beloved of Abdullah Ibrahim, Lockrane’s multitracked flutes heard at the opening of the title track brings a Gil Evans-type luxuriance to proceedings. Aside from her own clarity of articulation, assured comping skills and rock-solid rhythmic feel, The Embrace vividly conveys Williams’ fecund imagination and compositional acuity.


01/04/0008 Peter Vacher, Jazz UK

Pianist-composer Williams is quietly compiling a discography of genuine worth and consequence. This is her working quintet with Canadian tenor-saxophonist Steve Kaldestad, alongside Gareth Lockrane and his array of flutes. They’re backed by the resourceful pairing of bassist Jeremy Brown and drummer Tristan Mailliot on a series of Williams originals (bar one standard). ‘Elements of Five’ cleverly tinkers with structure and ingeniously changes tempo and mood around Williams’ lyrical piano. The whole album is infused with a kind of laid-back elegance, and the remarkable Lockrane is virtuosic with his alto flute on ‘Moon and Sand’ (in duo with Williams), while Kaldestad is happy to dig in with vigour on the perkier uptempo features.


06/03/0006 chris parker

You could have heard the proverbial pin drop while Williams spun solos packed with dynamic and textural nuance from her melodic, gently lyrical original material, interspersing it with intriguing visits to modern jazz classics by the likes of Thelonious Monk. A small triumph, not only for Williams and her hair-trigger-accurate rhythm section (lithe bassist Jeremy Brown and brisk drummer Tristan Mailliot), but also for the aforementioned Vortex Steinway, which positively sang under her fingers.


17/02/0006 peter vacher

Williams has found her voice as both composer and player. For this, her
third CD, the London-based pianist has chosen again to trust her own
judgment as far as the material is concerned and produced the best album of
her career so to date. Ive played it a lot and can commend it for its range
and thoughtful quality. There are Monkian moments and more than a hint of
Bill Evanss gliding momentum but mostly what you hear is from Williams
herself. Shes a serious player, and I mean that as a compliment, her
musings complemented by the polished support of Brown and Mailliot who both
know when to put their collective foot down or back off.

Williams likes catchy motifs, as on Disparity, with its opening riff and
sudden shifts of mood and texture. Im Still Awake is a springy groover,
harmonically canny, with a Thelonious twist, the improvisation spare yet
swingy, with Maillot and Brown purring along in pursuit. With ten pieces,
eight by Williams herself, plus Day Dream by Duke and Monks Dream,
theres plenty here to digest, clever voicings at every turn, the music
mostly concise yet potent too.


06/02/0006 chris parker

'For her third album, Dankworth-award-winning pianist Kate Williams has recorded eight originals and a couple of jazz classics (Ellington/Strayhorns Day Dream and Monks Dream) with an alert, responsive rhythm section: bassist Jeremy Brown and drummer Tristan Mailliot. Although loosely themed around both its overall and individual titles (The Scenic Route an appropriately meandering theme, Waters Edge containing suitably lapping piano sounds, etc.) the album is a richly varied programme. Williams is an unshowy, subtle player, relying on displacements of rhythmic emphasis rather than dazzling runs to make her musical points, but her soloing is none the less cogent and powerful for that, and her themes, ranging from the overtly lyrical to the tastefully percussive, are immediately memorable, intensely melodic yet complex enough to provide absorbing bases for lively trio interaction. Admirably unfussy, impeccably performed, this is a fine trio album from a pianist/composer who should be better known.'


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