Report: Jeff Williams UK Quintet at Amazonas Jazz Festival. Brazil

Jeff Williams UK Quintet

Jeff Williams, fresh from his performance at the Amazonas Jazz Festival in Brazil with his UK Quintet, wrote to us about his gig in the beautiful setting of the Amazon Theatre Opera House:

Every so often, and not nearly often enough, something happens in the way you wish everything would. For the past two years my group has played at the Green Note in Camden during the London Jazz Festival and will return for this year’s on the 20th of November. Profound gratitude is felt for Alexa Von Hirschberg, who books the series. And not only for the opportunity to play at this gem of a venue before a thoroughly engaged audience. That is certainly sufficient to warrant a thank you. But it’s what happened after last year’s performance that moved things up several notches.

A man came up to me just as we concluded and said he wanted to bring us to a jazz festival in Brazil. I asked if he wanted a CD and he said he didn’t need one–he had heard all he needed to and his mind was made up. Subsequently, after returning to Brazil, he realised he knew me from my work with Dave Liebman. But his motivation to have us play at the Amazonas Jazz Festival in Manaus was purely based on his enjoyment of us and had nothing to do with name recognition or anything else. That’s what I meant by things happening the way they’re supposed to. His name is Rui Carvalho, festival artistic director, drummer and conductor of the Amazonas Big Band, which this year featured Bob Mintzer as guest composer and soloist.

Finn Peters, Josh Arcoleo, Phil Robson, Sam Lasserson and I had performed only a handful of times before this trip, though more than enough for me to know the band’s potential. Last Friday our concert proved the point, further evidenced by the audience’s standing ovation. We spent five days in Manaus. We heard fantastic street musicians, played with some of them, absorbed the atmosphere of the place, took a boat trip into the Amazon jungle and enjoyed each others company throughout. We came to know each other much more through this shared experience. The concert reflected this completely. Playing the music was a continuation of the on-going conversation. Ten rehearsals would not have produced such complete unity. We became a real band.

So, for all of us struggling for such opportunities, it’s good to know that occasionally they happen simply because someone hears you and likes what you’re doing. Take heart and work on the music.

Listen to our three-part interview with Jeff Williams HERE

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