Tag Archives: New Release

Gary Williams: Treasure Seeker

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Almost exactly a year ago I presented the Gary Williams album “At The Movies”. In the meantime I saw Gary last October in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and met him afterwards.  He came with an excellent band and I had an unforgettable Sunday lunch in this club.

Gary has just released (officially yesterday on September 19) a new album called “Treasure Seeker”.  What makes this album quite remarkable is the fact that it has only originals on it, so this is the debut album of the singer-songwriter Gary Williams. Together with pianist Jon Nickoll (who is the resident pianist at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar) twelve songs have been written, arranged and recorded for this album (the song “When Sunday Comes” is found twice in different arrangements, so the album has a total of 13 songs and a playtime of 44 minutes).

Gary presented some of the songs yesterday in London and I had the chance to attend this event. The picture shows Gary Williams and Jon Nickoll after performing together.

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There is some constancy and some evolution from the last album, the constant part is the band, the arranger Phil Steel and the Kenilworth studios, where the album was recorded. The evolutionary part is the songs, music that we have never heard before, songs where Gary put his feelings and his experience of life into words.

Some more background information can be found in this very entertaining video about the making of the album:

The album starts with the song “The Next Big Thing”, with the horn section at full tilt and a nice twist between the title of the song and the lyrics , because Gary sings “I don’t need to be the next big thing”. A short and crisp song to launch this album.

“Never Say I Love You” has been pre-released as a single on Spotify and is a beautiful soft song, not too slow, not too fast, with an excellent piano solo and again this extra wink between the title and the lyrics: “You can never say I love you too much”.

The album continues with “Kiss Me On A Rainy Day”, a slow love song with a superb big band arrangement played with great dynamics. This is just one of those tunes where Gary shows his coolness, regardless what the band does, he stays soft and relaxed.

“When Sunday Comes” starts with a nice acoustic guitar intro and we hear another soft and easy song, this time in Latin style, with the clear advice to “turn off the phones till Monday”. One of my favorites on the album, the steady groove comes from the acoustic guitar with some percussion. The Fender Rhodes sound is anyway something I just can’t get enough of.

“Don’t Trust A Wink” shows the hard swinging Gary Williams. Accompanied by an outstanding big band, this tune is another highlight of the album. The praise goes to Phil Steel, the band and especially Graeme Blevins on saxophone.

“One Second To Decide” is another big band tune, this is time much more old-fashioned, but played straight and without frills. Also very nice. The following video shows an unplugged version of this tune:

The album continues with “Growing Pains”, a ballad with just Matt Regan on piano and Gary Williams on vocals in a very intimate setup.

“I Blame The Moon” sounds like a traditional folk song (or like a song from the soundtrack to “Lord of the Rings”), with the flute playing the intro and interlude and the acoustic guitar picking arpeggios, a very soft and romantic song, supported by strings and a harp.

“Don’t Talk About Time” is next, a nice pop-song, again featuring Graeme Blevins on saxophone.

“The Dreamer” brings back the big band sound, this time with a jazz blues. It reminds me of songs like “Route 66″. We hear solos by Graeme Blevins on saxophone, Clive Dunstall on piano and Tommy Emmerton on guitar and again the incredible brass section that consists only of Malcolm Melling on trumpet and Chris Traves on trombone (who is also the studio engineer).

The album continues with “Our Love Grows Stronger”, a soft love song arranged in an easy Latin-style with an acoustic rhythm guitar, Fender Rhodes and saxophone, pleasantly laid-back and relaxed, this is the kind of song that you typically associate with Gary Williams.

The title song “Treasure Seeker” is the “last” song on this album. Gary asks us here: “Did I entertain you?” The simple answer is “Yes, indeed”. The longer answer is: “You entertained me and you impressed me at the same time.  This album is of outstanding excellence, beautiful melodies, lyrics that sometimes open the door to your inside, your experiences, sometimes have a little twist and I always enjoy English rhymes. The arrangements are fabulous and the band plays very, very good. So please, let us hear one more song.”

The encore is a Boogaloo version of “When Sunday Comes”, this version has teeth compared to the Latin groove before. The band shows again how precise and accurate it can play and Graeme Blevins on saxophone is one more time the soloist.

Unfortunately, that’s it. But the good things is that you can hear Gary live in London. The show on September 30 at Ronnie Scott’s is sold out, but tickets for his Christmas shows are already on sale. Alternatively, just book Gary for your next birthday party, you won’t regret it.

More details can be found on his website:
http://www.garywilliams.co.uk

And finally a playlist on Apple Music:

 

Olivia Foschi: Fleeting Windows

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A brand new album comes from vocalist, composer and educator Olivia Foschi. It is titled “Fleeting Windows” and the main inspiration of this album comes from her twin boys who were born in 2015. Olivia Foschi lives in New York, but she was born in San Francisco and grew up in Italy. The excellent line-up of this album features

  • Olivia Foschi – voice
  • Gil Goldstein – accordion/piano/Rhodes
  • Billy Test – piano/Rhodes
  • Alex Sipiagin – trumpet/flugelhorn
  • Daniel Dickinson – bass clarinet/flute/tenor sax/alto sax
  • Joseph Doubleday – vibraphone
  • Yotam Silberstein – guitar
  • Marco Panascia – bass
  • Ulysses Owens Jr. – drums/percussion

The album was produced by Ulysses Owens Jr. and the official release date was August 24, 2018.

Olivia says that “I wanted to make a record dedicated to my sons that would somehow capture the myriad of emotions we went through in these past few years”. The songs were either written for them, inspired by them, or integral tunes within their daily routine.

The album starts with an original from Olivia called “Due To Wake Up Soon”.  The song has a nice steady pulse but also a lot of space for the soloists and captures that feeling of easiness in the morning before the daily routine starts.

The second tune “Stay As Sweet As You Are” is the first highlight of the album. Gil Goldstein arranged it in musette-style and Olivia sings this old song with her clean and clear voice fresher than ever.

The album continues with “Firefly”, composed by Kenny Barron and the late Chris White Jr. Olivia included this song in her repertoire after  performing it with Chris and the John Ehlis Ensemble. We hear great solos by Alex Sipiagin and Yotam Silberstein. Alex Sipiagin arranged this song in in 7/4 that goes back to 4/4 on the bridge which opened the song rhythmically for Olivia to add some Konnakol (art of performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian Carnatic music).

“Dreams Come True” is another original by Olivia Foschi, the beautiful arrangement is by Gil Goldstein. A breezy song that modulates between major and minor keys.

“Dienda”, the 5th song on the album is a composition by Kenny Kirkland, known from Branford Marsalis or Sting.  This song was included as Olivia’s farewell to Brooklyn. She said: “Sting’s lyrics to “Dienda” reminded me of my decision to leave Brooklyn for a more rural environment as I entered this new ‘season’ in my life as a mother.” In balladesque style, this is one of the softest songs on the album.

The next tune “Pitter Patter” is another favorite of mine. You can here a mother talking to her boys who seem to have too much energy, I really like that catchy phrase “Pitter-patter, what’s the matter, please, don’t fight”.  The song gets more open during the solos. This is one of the nice characteristics of this album: catchy melodic phrases alternate with open and very dynamic solo parts.

“Quiet Now” comes next and Olivia explains: “We listen to a lot of Bill Evans in our home, especially when the going gets rough, and his take on Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now” instantly gives me space to breathe within all the chaos. Gil randomly offered to arrange it for the record, so I penned lyrics to it and all of a sudden it was on the track list.” Very tastefully sung and featuring Gil Goldstein and Alex Sipiagin as soloists. Just released and already a classic.

“Look for the Silver Lining” from Jerome Kern starts with Olivia tapping on the kitchen table while singing it to her boys. The song features Joseph Doubleday on vibraphone and an incredible Yotam Silberstein on guitar. The excellent and very rhythmic arrangement is by Billy Test.

The next song “Tiny Toes” is composed and arranged by Olivia Foschi, again very rhythmically, an up-tempo, be-bop style song. Very jazzy, featuring Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums.

“My Life” is the second song composed by Chris White Jr.  on this album. Olivia had once a hard time relating to the song and Chris walked her through the song’s underlying intention and phrasing and since then she understood its true meaning. We hear only piano, bass and Olivia singing beautifully.

“Looking Up”, the homage to New York by Michel Petrucciani, closes the album. This song is another highlight for me. The guitar determines the easy Latin-groove and the bass clarinet gives the song it’s special touch.

The eleven songs on the album have all been carefully arranged and show Olivia’s passion for great melodies, open space and rhythmic accentuation. Olivia has a clear and full voice, discreet and present, a real pleasure to listen. The album has also a distinct and unique atmosphere, it’s own spirit, like a total work of art.

There is also a nice video available with some more information about this album:

Here is  a link for cdbaby.com where you can order the CD:
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/oliviafoschi2

The album is also available on Spotify:

More information about Olivia Foschi can be found on her website:
https://www.oliviafoschi.com/

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