BBC Big Band Club members will know Gary Williams from his many appearances with the band both live and on Big Band Special. He also performs regularly with John Wilson's and under John Wilson's baton, with the BBC Concert Orchestra. In June 2010 he had two albums being released. “Gary Williams Meets Frank Sinatra” and “Gary Williams - The Best of Abbey Road”. Both titles perhaps need some explanation. The “Abbey Road” album comprises selected recordings made at the Abbey Road Studios in London and all comprising parts of three earlier albums. “Alone Together”,”Swingin? On Broadway” and “In The Lounge With Gary Williams”.
The albums were recorded over a four-year time span and involve 55 different musicians and at least half a dozen arrangers. The musicians and the arrangers include many names and sounds familiar to BBC Big Band fans - trombone solos by Gordon Campbell, sparking piano from Andy Vintner and arranging from Richard Rodney Bennett are just some of the treats in store. I especially enjoyed the variety of musical settings on this compilation. This is very definitely a song-by-song approach and not a set of standard charts played by a set instrumentation. There are some outstanding solos interwoven with Gary?s impeccable interpretation of lyrics - a highly recommended album - available as a CD or download. See www.garywilliams.co.uk for details.
Gary's website also has details of the “Sinatra” album - which is NOT an album of electronically engineered duets, neither is it a “Tribute” album with Gary imitating Frank Sinatra. An alternative, more accurate title might be “Gary Williams Meets Frank Sinatra?s Arrangers” because Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Neal Hefti provide the backing music here - and an all-star cast of British musicians recorded with superb sound quality again, I suspect, at Abbey Road.If you would enjoy hearing an alternative take on “All Or Nothing At All” or Gordon Campbell offering ?another hearing? of that trombone solo in “I?ve Got You Under My Skin” then this album will delight you.
The most pleasing thing about this album, for me, was that it is not a “Tribute” (with a capital T), but is a sincere tribute to the genre that Sinatra created - brought to you by a very talented 21st Century artist who thrives in that genre. Again - details can be found at www.garywilliams.co.uk or your favourite record store.
Gordon SapsedBBC Big Band Club Magazine