LIVE REVIEW: Kamaal Williams at Colston Hall

This was The Return of Kamaal. On the second night of the UK tour in Bristol he took to the stage with typical swagger, sunglasses on and draped in a graphic headscarf. The Lantern was the backdrop – a venue steeped in history – for jazz set very much in the present.

Kamaal Williams is the latest exploit of SE London DJ and producer Henry Wu – and notably the realisation of the abrupt separation of Yussef Kamaal in May 2017.

Yussef Dayes, the sublimely talented drummer, is now pursuing other projects with the likes of Alfa Mist and Mansur Brown, while Henry Wu will continue with his playful keyboard-playing persona Kamaal Williams alongside bassist Pete Martin and drummer Josh McKenzie, aka McKnasty.

This was a fluid performance from the outset. Williams announced somewhat self-indulgently at the beginning that the trio ‘didn’t do setlists’, setting the trend for the evening.

There was no discernible end or beginning to any of the tracks apart from the two that Williams announced himself – Catch the Loop and Calligraphy.

Any knowledge of Yussef Kamaal’s scant backlog from the phenomenal solitary album Black Focus would have been useless here, with most of the songs *probably* from Williams’ aptly named new album The Return, which is out on May 25th.

The brilliant bass-led jam Lowrider was the other familiar hark back to the days of Yussef Kamaal, although it didn’t get a name check.

Williams’, Martin and McKnasty jammed and improvised as the funk built to a crescendo after Williams had opened by simply stroking the keys to produce enduring arpeggios.

The trio communicated with ecstatic facial expressions, having clearly built up a strong rapport in the recording studio. McKnasty and Kamaal regularly rose to their feet to engage their bandmates and the audience.

Despite the ambiguous flow of the set, the sell-out crowd was left baying for more and anticipation will only continue to build until the album’s release in two months’ time.

Discernible setlist:

  • Catch The Loop
  • Lowrider
  • Calligraphy

The day before the tour began, Williams dropped the first song on The Return‘s tracklist, Salaam.

The eight-minute tune is in a very similar vein to Yussef Kamaal and will give listeners high hopes for the new album.

The Return is out on May 25th.




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