London Jazz loves Treasure Seeker

London Jazz News has just posted a review of Treasure Seeker, saying:

Williams flows seamlessly through his songs that feature a variety of tempi, grooves with dramatic and subtle qualities alike. The one thing that they all share is a positive view and an optimistic air for impending romance. Gary's clear and resonant voice, coupled with his perfect tuning and diction, goes a long way to delivering this collection with aplomb.

Click here to read the full review.

Raising the roof with Brian Conley

 

We just had another great night of fun and fund-raising at the Dorchester Hotel with the Hard Rock Cafe. Gloria Hunniford was there on behalf of her charity The Caron Keating Foundation along with a glittering line up of celebrities, all giving their time and support to this wonderful cause.

Brian Conley and I entertained the room before Tony Hadley tore it up with a very cool acoustic set. Then Jim Cregan and his legendary band got everyone on the dance floor.

I met Gloria 20 years ago and have sung for her every year since then. It’s always an honour to be a part of her events.

 With Gloria Hunniford 20 years ago.

With Gloria Hunniford 20 years ago.

 

A debut performance at the launch

Treasure Seeker has now been released into the world! We did the press launch on Wednesday in London at the intimate Salon Noir in L'Escargot. It was a nice chance to thank some of the many people who helped make it happen like arranger Phil Steel and producer Chris Traves. The highlight was singing with Jon Nickoll, who co-write the songs. We realised we've never actually performed one of our songs together, so it was a chance not to miss.


Winner of album art competition

We had so many great nominations for the album art competition. Lots of you emailed and we had a few more on Instagram and Facebook.

What struck me was the range and variation of covers suggested. We had A Touch of Schmillson in the Night by Harry Nillson (is that a spliff in his hand?), The Beatles' Sargeant Pepper, Tubular Bells, Kenny Burrell's Midnight Blue (one of many great Blue Note covers), Dark Side of the Moon, Houses of the Holy, Aja from Steely Dan, Roy Orbison’s Only the Lonely, Supertramp Crime of the Century and Peter Gabriel's Up with the minimalist water droplets. I loved the suggestion of Thelonius Monk's Misterioso album with a very groovy cover by Giorgio De Chirico. Someone suggested Lodon Calling from the Clash, Dave Brubeck's Jazz Goes to College (great album). Plenty of people, including my old pal Ted Higgins from Opus One reckons it has to be Sinatra's Songs for Swingin' Lovers and Roy Oakshot shared a great story about the cover of Matty Matlock’s Dixielanders, which is just gorgeous. We also had covers from Andrew Lloyd Webber, Axis, Kula Shaker, The Small Faces, The Rolling Stones and Wings. How's that for a record collection.  

Two people chose Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. It's an elaborate cover design by Storm Thorgerson echoing the album's theme's. Oddly, it was sold covered in black shrinkwrap, so you couldn't even see what you were getting. There's a great article about it on Wikipedia here.

My favourite, and the winner, nominated by Mike Whiteley on Facebook, is Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy from Elton John. I was in the Prado in Madrid earlier this year enjoying their collection of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch. It's amazing how this 15th century artist still influences pop culture today – it's mind-blowing now, so I can only imagine what people made of it back then. Bosch's influence is all over the Captain Fantastic cover, as it is Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. It was designed by British psychedelic artist Alan Aldridge – who also worked for The Who, The Beatles and Andy Warhol. Nice one, Mike. 

Thanks for all your suggestions. I've had a great time looking at all of them and playing a few of them too.

Oscar winner tells Michael Bublé to "watch out".

Leslie Bricusse, the Oscar winning songwriter of Feeling Good and Goldfinger, has described my new album as a “rare phenomenon” and told Michael Bublé to “watch out”. 

I first met Leslie Bricusse last year at a celebrity party hosted by Hard Rock Cafe. My songwriting partner, Jon Nickoll and I, have been fans of his for as long as I can remember, so I couldn’t resist introducing myself when I had the chance. I told him I was writing songs for a new album and he asked me to send him an early draft.

I am happy to report that the legendary writer was impressed. He wrote back saying, “There is a dreamy, easy-going timelessness about the songs, shades of Rodgers and Hart one minute, Antonio Carlos Jobim the next. Songs like these make you want the ghosts of Mel Torme and Matt Monro to come back and sing them. Until they do, Gary Williams is their worthy guardian.”

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"There is a dreamy, easy-going timelessness about the songs" 

Bricusse won his first Oscar in 1968 for Talk To The Animals, and another 14 year’s later for Victor/Victoria staring Julie Andrews. He was nominated again for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and his songs have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Matt Monro, Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis Jr, Michael Bublé, Nina Simone and Diana Krall.

Treasure Seeker is released September 19.

FREE POST... Pre-order here using promo code "FREETREASURE" to get free UK postage before the launch date.

Five stars for Treasure Seeker

Musical Theatre Review has awarded Treasure Seeker five stars, saying “...why did I constantly play this album on repeat for about three hours? ...it may have something to do with the silky-smooth tones of Gary Williams’ voice rendering songs I had never heard before but I am sure I will be hearing a lot more of in the near future.”

Click here to read the full thing.

1968 going to Cleethorpes

Only 3 weeks till I'm in Cleethorpes celebrating the hits of 1968 and introducing some of my own songs from the new album.  It really is a wonderful show with something for everyone. I hope you can make it. Click here to book.

The show got a 5 star review in London, here's a taster:

"How refreshing, in an age when popular music is all noise and indistinguishable lyrics, to be able to journey back with him to the heyday of swing and crooning. In a set lasting 85 minutes he manages to deliver some 25 numbers supported by his musical director and pianist, Nathan Martin. All delivered in his own intimate style.

His choice of material features plenty of Bacharach and David including ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ and ‘Close to You’ as well as songs from Broadway shows and films – the anthem to life ‘I Gotta Be Me’ from Golden Rainbow is a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr while Camelot’s ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’ is sung with great feeling. By contrast, Williams swings the jaunty ‘Bonnie and Clyde’."

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What's your favourite album art?

 

One of my favourite albums is a 1957 compilation from RCA called Mambo For Cats. I've never actually heard it. I'm just in love with the cover art. It's a classic design by graphic artist Jim Flora - the man responsible for some the best album covers of the 50s. I suppose that was my first introduction to art.

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The Beatles understood the importance of a great cover, commissioning Jann Haworth and Peter Blake to conjure up the Sergeant Pepper collage. The boys were just as radical in 1968 with the White Album (perhaps a nod to Kazimir Malevich) and a year later with Abbey Road – a cover with no text. That was the work of art director John Kosh, who was also behind another favourite, ELO's Out Of The Blue. Its kaleidoscopic flying saucer always reminding me of that electronic game, Simon. 

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As a kid I'd sit listening to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours staring at the cover, admiring the fancy footstool and wondering why the man with a ponytail had a pair of balls hanging between his legs. I later learned they were toilet chains he'd nicked from a from club years earlier. 

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Treasure Seeker is my first album as a songwriter and I wanted it to look different to my other work. Through (Un)finished Works I found Portuguese artiste Mariana Baladia. I explained how Jon Nickoll and I created the songs, and after listening to the album, she got to work.

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She came up with a fantasy concert at London's Savoy hotel, where Jon plays every week. The cover features me singing as my producer, Chris Traves, plays his trombone sitting on trumpet valves coming out of the neck of a gigantic double bass. On the back there's Jon playing his piano on keys which morph into the Savoy's tiled reception floor.

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Through a window in the giant bass we see the chef in his kitchen sneaking a peek at this art deco, psychedelic spectacular. Inside, we see the rest of the orchestra, complete with violins and a very smart percussionist playing the triangle. The giant bass makes another appearance, this time as a swanky bar for the smart-set, enjoying the music and the Savoy's famous cocktails. It's quite a spectacle. 

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As technology gets smaller, so too has album art. We've gone from supersized vinyl, to compact discs, to postage-stamp sized graphics on our phones where you can't tell a tuba from a triangle. Maybe one day the resurgence of vinyl will see the return of album art we can hang on our walls. 

In the meantime, try this for a full sensory experience: get yourself of copy of Treasure Seeker, gaze at the artwork, sipping a Savoy signature cocktail, and enjoy the music. Who knows, you might find some treasure of your own.


Win a limited edition copy of the artwork and an invitation to the album launch

I've got a pair of tickets for my album launch in gig at Ronnie Scott's on 30 September, a signed copy of the album and a limited edition copy of the original artwork for Treasure Seeker by Portuguese artist Mariana Baladia.

All you need to do is comment here telling me your favourite album cover of all time. 

The winner will be announced on Sunday 16th September. I am running this same competition via my mailing list, Facebook, Instagram and on my website. Postage is to UK only. International entrants welcome but delivery is subject to postage charges. 

The artwork is printed on the highest quality, 100% cotton watercolour paper, guaranteeing archival standards. There are only five copies printed and we're giving away two of them.

You'll get a spread of three panels of the CD artwork.

 

 

It's here!

The new album, Treasure Seeker, has been delivered in all it's multi dimensional glory. I am thrilled with how it's turned out. The print looks great, the lyric booklet inside is just how we wanted it and, of course, the CD itself sounds smashing.

The official release date is 19 September but we are shipping them now if you order from this website. Use the code FREETREASURE to get free UK postage.

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World Singing Expo

I’ve just come back from the World Singing Expo in Poland. Having never had singing lessons before it’s been a real thrill meet with some incredible teachers from all over the world to see what else I can do with my voice.

I worked with Wendy Parr and Greg Enriquez from the States and Richard Halton from the UK. All using different approaches to reach the same end. It was really exciting for me to see what possible with some coaching and I'm looking forward to seeing where this new journey takes me.

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New look diary

I have replaced the old diary on the website with a Google calendar. It doesn't look quite a smart but it's easier to use and has more information for you. If you want more information on any date just click on the event (name of ship or show) and you'll see what's going on. You'll also find the links to book tickets. 

I've also added details of the Legends podcast, and for the first time you can see which artiste will be featured in advance.

Click here to check it out.

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