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Gig of the week – Jeff Williams quartet

October 1, 2018


Master drummer Jeff Williams, who divides his time between New York and London, brings a lifetime’s experience to the stand. The first recording of his in my library dates from 1972, and features John Abercrombie, Clint Houston and Mark Cohen (now Mark Copeland). He’s kept similarly classy company ever since, as a glance at his amazing photo gallery shows. He has played at the Fringe a couple of times before, and if you caught any of those dates you won’t need persuading to come again. But this week, he brings his own quartet to the little room in Clifton and it’s a great prospect. They’ll have a big collection of Williams’ compositions to draw on, from a whole series of recent recordings on Whirlwind records. The last of these featured three horns, recorded live. We only get a quartet, because life is imperfect, but it includes the luminously talented Kit Downes on piano, heard on the recording, and a locally nurtured player who is rarely heard in Bristol these days, Josh Arcoleo on sax.

Hearing both of them at greater length than the larger formation permits will be an excellent trade-off, and long-time bassist Sam Lasserson (like Arcoleo he’s been playng with Williams for seven years or more, as this old review reminds me) completes a superb, high-level line-up.

I’ve listened to versions of Williams small groups a lot these last few years, as various other reviews (live here and CDs here and, (by another LondonJazz writer on his latest, here) attest. He’s never less than excellent. I’ll be disappointed if this Bristol date isn’t one of the year’s highights.


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