Shock! - Gareth Williams Power Trio - York Press

The Gareth Williams Power Trio's "Shock!" (Linn Records) is Williams' debut album as leader, with Laurence Cottle (bass) and Ian Thomas (drums).

Known as the pianist/MD with Claire Martin's band, he is a key member of Iain Ballamy's Anorak and has also worked with Art Farmer, George Coleman, Tommy Smith and Clark Tracey.

His first professional job was a dizzying world tour with the jazz hip-hop band Us3 in 1993, on the strength of their chart-dominating Cantaloop, based on Herbie Hancock's Cantaloupe Island.

Given this early Hancock injection, it is no surprise that the opening track, A Welshman In New York, features the post-modern return of the Fender Rhodes piano. The funk-fusion 1970s throwback sound is in vogue with young British jazz musicians. The 1970s whiff is intensified by Laurence Cottle's Jaco Pastorius-influenced bass guitar solo.

Williams is an admirer of pianists Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans, but is also in thrall to rock band Cream and Jimi Hendrix, thus the title track Shock! mixes rock riffs, James Brown grooves and jazz improvisation.

The Shock! album is an eclectic blend of straight ahead jazz and funk/fusion. Depending on taste, it will appear either thrillingly fresh, or familiar retro. Capable of assured playing across the genres, the album is never dull.

York Press
11 May 2009