Kamaal Williams Trio at The Blues Kitchen

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Kamaal Williams at The Blues Kitchen Manchester
The Blues Kitchen

Kamaal Williams Trio at The Blues Kitchen Manchester, Manchester 26 May 2024 Tickets from £20.35 — Book now

This event has been cancelled.

Star of the South London jazz scene, Kamaal Williams and his trio are performing at The Blues Kitchen over the late May Bank Holiday weekend, following the release of his excellent 2023 record, Stings.

It’s been seven years since Kamaal Williams helped flip UK jazz on its head with the seminal album Black Focus, a collaboration with Yussef Dayes under the name Yussef Kamaal. Pairing ’70s jazz funk with the bass-heavy sounds of London club culture, the project was meteorically successful but short-lived, the pair announcing its end just two days after they won 2017’s Breakthrough Act award at the Jazz FM awards. This was a perplexing move at the time, but in retrospect it freed both artists up to work across so many more exciting projects, with Williams having since released a string of acclaimed records under his own name and his club-focussed moniker, Henry Wu.

Williams’ 2023 album Stings stretches across a huge range of genres, from hip hop to acid jazz to neo classical, and features some sublime playing by Williams himself (on keys) and an impressive crew: L.A. multi-instrumentalist maestro Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (Flying Lotus, Bonobo) contributing string arrangements, Grammy-nominated bass god, Sharay Reed, violinist Stephanie Yu (Beyonce, Mariah Carey), Stones Throw’s DJ Harrison, the Katalyst Collective’s Greg Paul, and Atlanta saxophonist, Quinn Mason.

The record’s first half features its most immediate moments, peaking with the restless bebop of the title track and the adrenaline pumping funk of ‘Dogtown’, before sinking into dreamy classical arrangements on the back end. Not included on the physical record are three additional tracks which expand and inform the world of Stings, including the creative handbrake turn of ‘PKKNO’, a menacing, grime-indebted track that is a powerful testament to Kamaal’s ability to shapeshift, and to push himself into unchartered musical terrain.

We’ve caught Williams live a few times now, and his loopy, groove-centric keyboard playing massively impresses live. At The Blues Kitchen it’ll be paired with synth and bass by LA-based multi-instrumentalist Brian Hargrove, and the outrageous skills of Peezy on drums. The latter just appeared on a new single by Williams: a hypnotic cover of ‘Everything in its Right Place’ by Radiohead, in which drums become the star. It’s fair to stay we’re in for a treat this Bank Holiday Sunday.

Kamaal Williams Trio at The Blues Kitchen Manchester, Manchester 26 May 2024 Tickets from £20.35 Book now

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