Kamaal + Katalyst - NYC :: a M.DeathWish LaterGram
Our man on the next coast, Mssr. M.DeathWish wrote and shared a few things with us that should absolutely have been pulled up, posted and put to use MOONS ago…
The first was his take on a show he checked out when Producer and electric Piano-man, Henry “Kamaal Williams” Wu landed in NYC with two of THE NONSEMBLE extended family helping to lift him up and hold him down for his first U.S. tour. As I tap-type-text-talk, Kamaal has re-enlisted Marlon Spears and Greg Paul of KATALYST [the Collective] to join him and Saxophonist, Quinn Mason for a second mini-tour - this time they’re out and about in parts of Asia! As to the last round, I saw them in Los Angeles… and was too caught up to keep note. All the same, M.DeathWishe keeps us covered and here, he writes us up about the NY show…
I wasn't there - so I’d better let M.DeathWish tell it.
The high-concept hybrid “Jazz” coming out of the UK these days has a very varied - yet easily noted - swagger, a certain something that is all at once truly unique to the London lads and their sub-groups [North, West and South London - Stand UP].
For us Yanks, it can feel a bit similar to our first time watching a Guy Ritchie movie [one of the great ones]. Both the humor and dialogue are different, yet an easy, organic musical connection can always be made for their American audiences.
Pianist Kamaal Williams almost epitomizes exactly that. Is it Jazz? Absolutely. Is it Electronic? Obviously. Is there really any point to label these sounds - or any music and/or the Artists that gift us with the best of it? In a word, “No”.
Love it or hate it, take it or leave it - but whatever you feel - take the best, forget the rest and just let it all be.
Henry Wu / Kamaal Williams’ music is heavily steeped - as strong as Earl Grey tea - with influences that run the gamut from the infectious grooves of yesterday’s UK Garage & J Dilla palettes to the depth of yester-years’ originators, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. On 09.MAR, Kamaal Williams backed by the heavy groovin' rhythm section of Greg Paul [Drums] and Marlon Spears [Bass] of LA-based KATALYST [the Collective] who handily helped Henry brand of madness to [le]Poisson Rouge here in NYC.
From the first note to the last, the group had the audience moving to the music. This isn’t your type of “Jazz” show, with the audience sitting calm and cool, content to quietly appreciate the music. This was an in your face show that hardly let up from start to finish. With Kamaal commanding a wide range of vintage keyboards while providing a uber-futuristic sound.
Kamaal and the KATS set the tone of the evening right away. Infectious and dizzying, I’ve never heard so much power come out of a keyboardist’s arsenal. The audience roared after every song, seeming to even further hype the power of the group throughout the evening. Just when you thought there might be a more relaxed moment or a lull in the flow - they exploded. Again.
Kamaal allowed just the right amount of room to allow sister silence to fill the spaces in the venue and let the resulting music take over.
Many times at live “Jazz” show, we receive quite a bit of soloing over the changes however, Kamaal aka Henry Wu knows all-too-well exactly when to tastefully let loose on the keys as well as where, when and how to let the music speak for itself. Playing the spaces between the notes, as Miles would have meant it too be.
The compositions themselves are highly improvisational jams - crafted with ample space for solos here, there and everywhere - yet with the ubiquitously present underlying groove that provided an amazing night of music. The highs, lows, peaks and lulls were all organically built, with Kamaal open, sharing the spotlight with both Greg and Marlon throughout the course of the night showcasing each individual's prowess on their instrumental axes and supporting every twists and turns each of the tunes would take. Every solo rang true as it should be!
Kamaal’s most recent full-length, “THE RETURN”, is a killer album for those uninitiated with his music. His breakout release, “BLACK FOCUS” - by Yussef Kamaal, which introduced the whole WorldWide tribe to both Kamaal Williams and his then vibe-tribe, with the young master, Yussef Dayes on Drums and Mansur Brown pulling [Guitar] strings is an absolute must! For now, recent Instagram postings suggest future collaborations with Kaytranada and Yussef Dayes, it appears that more of Mr. Wu's musical madness is on the horizon. Soon.