Tag Archives: Gary Williams

Gary Williams: Treasure Seeker


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.


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:



Gary Williams: At The Movies


I haven’t presented a lot of fresh music in my blog, but since we are already heading into the second half of the year it’s time to look at this year’s harvest.

There is a great new album to be released officially on September 14 from one of the finest Swing singers and crooners in the UK, from Gary Williams.  Very well known for his role of Frank Sinatra in ‘The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas’ from London’s West End, he has put together an album of outstanding excellence: some of the finest arrangers in the UK and some of the best Jazz musicians in the UK have been called up to breathe new life into fifteen songs from Hollywood classics like The Aristocats, Saturday Night Fever, Toy Story 2, The Jungle Book and The Lady and The Tramp.

The CD began with a surprise: The first song called ‘Spooky’, which I know from the late 70′s from the Atlanta Rhythm Section was used in the 1998 movie ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and became a Hollywood classic. The version I remembered was a great piece of US-southern rock music but Phil Steel arranged it very cool with nice horn arrangements featuring Graeme Blevins on flute and Gary’s voice floating above the band. It’s a very elegant opener for the CD.

The next song was an unknown for me. ‘Almost in Love’ is a beautiful Bossa Nova written by Luiz Bonfá and recorded originally by Elvis Presley in 1968. This is my favorite song on the CD, pretty cool and relaxed sung with a piano and saxophone solo and millions of times better than the Elvis version.

The CD continues with a classic pop song. ‘Both Sides Now’ from Joni Mitchell, which is usually presented very openly and softly. The arrangement from Phil Steel and the way Gary sings it however, avoids that it becomes greasy. Gary has produced a nice video for that tune which I do not want to keep from you:

The fourth song ‘Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat’ from the movie ‘The Aristocats’ has been pre-released to the public as a free sample track and Gary returns here to his jazzy side with an old-fashioned swinging band and the great Nigel Price playing a slick guitar solo.

The ballad ‘Puppet On A String’ comes next and this song gives Gary the opportunity to show his clean and precise voice and his perfect pronunciation. You may say now, here is a ballad and you talk about pronunciation but for me this is what came to mind hearing this song. A ballad is often used to present the voice with some great dynamics, but this ballad stays soft,  gentle and … precise.

Now we need a little bit more power and it comes with ‘He’s A Tramp’ from ‘The Lady and The Tramp’.  A very danceable Cha-Cha-Cha version with an excellent wind-section, that sounds like a mix of a big-band and a salsa band. Very nice.

Back to pop music with the next song –  ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ from ‘Saturday Night Fever’. I think everybody knows and remembers it. The latin groove with a string arrangement plus saxophone fills and solo give the song a different but pleasant touch.

The CD continues with a Gary as Baloo, the bear from ‘The Jungle Book’ in ‘Bare Necessities’. The comedian in this song however is the band especially Chris Traves who wrote the trombone arrangement and plays the trombone.

The 9th song on the CD is another Elvis Presley song. ‘I Need Somebody To Lean On’ is from the 1964 movie ‘Viva Las Vegas’. Another very soft song with an organ background and guitar and vibraphone playing the kicks and fill-ins.

The next tune ‘Baby Mine’ from the 1941 Disney movie ‘Dumbo’ is again a latin groove. Similar in style and sound like ‘Almost in Love’ –  a Fender Rhodes piano, an acoustic guitar and a saxophone – but another perfect scenery for Gary. For me this kind of music is really ideal for his soft and clear voice.

‘When She Loved Me’ from ‘Toy Story 2′ shows Gary and the excellent piano playing of Clive Dunstall in a beautiful duet ballade, comparable to the original version in the movie.

The CD continues with a Burt Bacharach song. ‘Close To You’ from ‘Mirror Mask’ but the arrangement from Paul Campbell does not follow the version from the movie. This song is another of my personal favorites, because there is this killer sound of piano and vibraphone playing unisono, which makes me to get goosebumps.
If you would like to listen to the version from ‘MirrorMask’ (I think this is a quite interesting interpretation) here is the link for you

The Irving Berlin tune  ‘Isn’t This A Lovely Day’ from the 1935 movie ‘Top Hat’, originally sung by Fred Astaire comes next and Gary’s version is a classic swing tune with a rhythm section (guitar, bass and drums) plus again a brillant Clive Dunstall on piano. I found a quite similar arrangement from Diana Krall in my collection, but Gary’s version is much more straight and less pompous than Diana Krall’s arrangement. Very tasty.

The last two songs on the CD are reserved for songs sung originally by Elvis Presley:
‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ from the movie ‘Kid Galahad’ is a piano-dominated ballad;
‘Pocketful of Rainbows’ from ‘G.I.Blues’ is arranged as pop-song, with a straight piano beat plus an excellent horn section, a really happy song to end this CD.

Well, that was a long list of tunes to present. 15 songs in total with a total playtime of 49 minutes makes this CD quite entertaining. The selection is a good mix of famous and lesser know songs, but each song received the full attention from the arranger, from Gary and from all musicians, so the the result is a CD Gary can be extremely proud of and which is comparable to productions from big names like Diana Krall, Michael Bublé or Nora Jones.

I also have to say ‘Thank You’ to Gary for taking me to this journey of songs from movies from the last 50 years. I listened to the original versions, discovered interesting material and I guess there are still many treasures to be dug up.

The official launch party takes place on September 14 at London’s Crazy Coqs. Another chance to see Gary live in London is on October 15 at Ronnie Scott’s. I will be there and I’m looking forward to hearing all these songs live.

You can pre-order the CD on Gary’s website. Here is the link for you:

As soon as the CD is released and available on iTunes, I will add a playlist.