Kamaal Williams The Return Black Focus
After years of listeners’ indifference, jazz is back at the forefront. There’s a revivified movement in London, thanks to artists such as Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd and Kamaal Williams.
As part of his previous band Yussef Kamaal, Williams created lush 70s jazz-funk, part Lonnie Liston Smith, part Grover Washington Jr, subtly indebted to the broken beat and UK house he’d also made under the name Henry Wu.
Solo or not, The Return is very much in the same ballpark as his Yussef Kamaal material. Broken Theme shows off his molten synth jazz chords amid incredibly fluid, funky drumming and bass thrums. High Roller is irresistibly sinuous and spry funk, with bass that curls around a rock solid beat and uplifting strings that provide a backdrop to neon synth squiggles. Catch The Loop has a more modern sound, full of stop-start, broken beat drums and synth hits, while Rhythm Commission is the kind of glorious 80s boogie that Roy Ayers himself wouldn’t baulk at, emerging from a fug of filter effects with a strutting bass bump and warm keys. Aisha is layered in ambient synth pads, the kind that make you think it’s going to erupt into jungle breaks any moment. That moment never comes, but for jazz and funk lovers, it’s a gem.