Gareth Williams: Short Stories

Pianist and, here, singer manages to be eclectic and coherent as he draws together strains as diverse as Nat Cole and Celtic folk

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Pianist Gareth Williams says in his brief sleeve notes that Short Stories reflects his eclectic taste in music and this certainly rings true on the opener Not Bossa, which starts in ruminative solo piano mood before perking up to evolve into a full-blown trio piece echoing Bill Evans at his most lyrical.

The genre-neutral objective continues with the uptempo Derivatives, where Martin France’s crackling drums underpin the number throughout, even to the extent of a breathtaking, flailing, percussive solo.

Again, with the non-specificity, the main melody of Buster Keaton curiously possesses the memorable qualities of some well-loved Gaelic folk tune, yet is another example of one of Williams’ wholly original compositions. Mr JT, presumably a respectful paean to the late, greatly missed pianist and composer John Taylor, is more evidence of the varied sources of influence that Williams has gleaned over his burgeoning career. No British jazz musician in the last 50 years could have failed to be impressed by Taylor’s outstanding virtuosity.

Another connection to Taylor is also present in the line-up of the musicians accompanying Williams since all three have played and recorded with the maestro. They need no introduction since all three are highly regarded leaders of their own respective groups. With the exception of two solo piano tracks including Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s Who Can I Turn To?, Chris Laurence is heard on all tracks except for Not Bossa, Mr JT, Buster Keaton and For Palle where Palle Danielsson takes over the bass role.

The outlier track is the Harold Adamson-Jimmy McHugh song Too Young To Go Steady, released in 1956 by Nat King Cole. Here Williams sings accompanied by lone piano. Arguably that number might have better suited an album comprising exclusively vocal and piano tracks. That aside, Williams has produced an album of expertly executed, engaging and often moving compositions.

Discography
Not Bossa; Unwritten Hymn; Derivatives; Mr JT; Who Can I Turn To?; Buster Keaton; Islands Of Men; Another Waltz; One More Blues; For Palle; Short Story; Too Young To Go Steady (67.34)
Williams (p, v); Palle Danielsson; Chris Laurence (b); Martin France (d). London, 28-29 August, 2019.
Miles Music MMCD090