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Saturday, September 23, 2017

CD Review: The Mark Williams Trio - Last Bus to Bensham

Mark Williams (guitar), Paul Susans (bass) & Russ Morgan (drums)
(Review by Russell)
From Belfast to Gateshead, Mark Williams has made his home on Tyneside. A Newcastle College graduate, the Irishman has made a considerable contribution to the north of England’s jazz scene over the best part of two decades. A ‘first call’ sideman, Williams isn’t the type to shout the odds – more a self-deprecating, dry wit. Last Bus to Bensham is Williams’ second album as leader which comprises eight compositions written by the master guitarist.

 The title track opens the album; angular, urgent, sleight-of hand, pedal effects – this, the signature sound of Mark Williams. Those familiar with the guitarist’s work with Andy Champion’s mighty ACV and Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra will want to check out this new recording. The last couple of years have seen the trio working on material at gigs. Now the music is available in CD format. The material incorporates killer grooves, swing time sections, shifting time signatures, often in one tune! Weird Waltz is just that – weird. Beautifully crafted, disturbing, nightmarish – welcome to the world of Mark Williams. Titles are pithy, and those who have heard the Irishman speak – occasionally he does! – will attest that hearing him announce them in his affecting brogue helps our understanding. Good Answer he might say, Scoff in Peace, and the wonderful Adare Say. Great titles for sure, the music is consistently magnificent.

Williams’ trio partners are themselves A-listers. Paul Susans plays electric bass and double bass with equal facility, and drummer Russ Morgan demonstrates great musicality throughout. Mastery of one’s chosen instrument may appear to be frustratingly out of reach for many no matter that the fabled ‘10,000 hours of practice’ mantra has been followed diligently. In the case of Mark Williams he is way beyond such concerns. Last Bus to Bensham is exceptionally good, and having listened to the CD several times (most CDs for review are listened to twice, maximum) it will be on the CD player frequently for the foreseeable future.

Last Bus to Bensham was recorded and mixed by Adam Sinclair, photography by Ken Drew.
The Mark Williams Trio will play a CD launch gig at Newcastle’s Jazz Café on Friday 29 September at 9:15pm. Tickets in advance from 0191 222 9882.

Russell.

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