Herts Jazz Festival Friday: Gareth Williams Trio
Gareth Williams Trio
Gareth Williams – keyboard, Steve Watts – bass, Martin France - drums
As ever, jazz piano figures very strongly in the programming of this year's Herts Jazz Festival (hardly surprising given the lineage of the festival's director!).
Graham Harvey, Steve Melling and Leon Greening – each an acknowledged master of their art - are among the several outstanding pianists to be heard this weekend, but we begin with a performer who is rightly regarded as an icon not only by his generational peers, but also those both younger and older than him.
Indeed, one such illustrious predecessor, the great Brian Dee, unashamedly calls Gareth Williams 'a genius'.
Williams really is one of those rare jazz figures more often talked of than actually encountered: an uncommonly sensitive, near bespoke accompanist to horn players and vocalists alike (everyone from Claire Martin to Art Themen); a composer and arranger whose work reveals ears cocked towards all manner of jazz flavours, but, above all – and particularly evident when leading his own line-ups – one of the most thrillingly inventive improvisers on the UK scene.
This evening, his trio will take audiences through a programme of original and standards-based material, delivered with the harmonic panache, taste and full technical virtuosity that has made Williams perhaps the most outstanding British jazz pianist of his generation.
‘A prodigiously talented pianist…' Dave Gelly, The Observer
'A front-rank UK jazz musician at home in a world of standard song-shapes, cool funk [and] postbop jazz'. John Fordham, The Guardian