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  • Writer's pictureRachael Finch

Cosmic Keys and Psychedelic Guitar on Kamaal Williams' The Return Tour

Updated: Dec 18, 2018

The Return Tour signals two things, the return of Kamaal Williams after splitting from his duo with Yussef Dayes and the reestablishment of UK jazz with Williams spearheading a recently ignited scene.

And boy has he returned.

The Return is Williams first record on his newly established label Black Focus Records, an obvious link to Yussef Kamaal's album Black Focus. While The Return retains the same cosmic keys and chunky basslines as his partnership with Yussef Dayes, it also produces a new layer of creativity, with room for Williams to experiment with silky chords and piano solos.

After seeing Williams DJing as his house alias Henry Wu at Hangar in London, a night packed with broken beat, soulful house and pots of groove, I was excited to see his jazzier alias come to life in a live performance.

Following signs with Williams' name, we found The Crossing in the heart of Digbeth, a slightly strange venue which had a school like canteen. The night nevertheless accommodated Williams' well, showcasing the best of London’s jazz scene and attracting a wide range of genders, ages and ethnicities. Williams' trio consisted of himself on keys, Dexter Hercules on drums and Pete Martin on bass. After no explanation of why Mansur Brown didn’t play the support slot, Williams swaggered onto the stage in trackies and a Black Focus bucket hat, his fashion reflecting a fusion of cultures and genres which were effortlessly captured in the trio's performance. Throughout the show the band seamlessly encompassed influences from hip hop, jazz, funk and broken beat, keeping the crowd captivated by dexterous technical skills, charming confidence and a mixture of The Return’s riffs and improvisation. After not playing the support slot, Mansur Brown did later come out to support the trio. Brilliantly talented, Brown leisurely added psychedelic guitar solos as he sat atop an amp for most of the gig.

Finishing the night with the title track 'The Return', Williams was able to expand on what felt like an unfulfilled song on his album, with dynamic and uplifting improvisation from the quartet, indicating that there is much more to come from Kamaal Williams and his label, channeling a newly revived jazz-fusion scene through Black Focus Records.

For more from Kamaal Williams listen to The Return on Spotify:


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