Photo credit: The Rev, London
Pianist Composer KATE WILLIAMS has invited her father, the classical guitarist JOHN WILLIAMS to be her guest in “Four Plus Three plus One” at the 606 Club on 14 June. She explained the background to this first-time father-daughter collaboration to Sebastian(*) :
LondonJazz News: The 606 website has announced a very intriguing gig on it’s website for 14 June “Four Plus Three plus One featuring Kate Williams plus special guest John Williams”. Can you explain the background?
Kate Williams: It was the coming together of two different things. When I first started “Four Plus Three”, I always had it in mind that it could be a lineup that could be quite flexible. We would get different guests, and I would arrange everything around that – last November we had Gareth Lockrane and Mike Outram join us at the 606, and later this year we’ll be collaborating with Georgia Mancio.
But it never occurred to me to ask my Dad, because from the time when I first decided to go into music, I was aware of the “Oh I’ve got a famous dad” thing. I was very careful early on to keep everything separate, and he always encouraged me to get on with my own thing. But I think sometimes those things then become a habit without you even really thinking abut it. It never really crossed my mind to ask him to do anything with Four Plus Three.
What actually happened was, at the 606 a few months before Xmas last year, Steve Rubie approached me and said “Oh, I’m just wondering, would you ever work with your dad, or have you ever considered it, and if so, would you do something with the strings project?” My very first thought was “Oh well I haven’t really thought of it.” He said, “Just think, if you never work together you might regret it. If you never ever did one gig…Have a think about it and ask him..?” And when I thought about it I realised it would be really nice, a great thing to do.
So I asked my dad. You know – you ask someone a question in a way that leaves them a way out, in case they don’t want to do it. So I rang him up and just said, “Well you’ll probably want to mull this over… don’t give me an answer now… but would you be willing to do a gig at the 606 with Four Plus Three?” But he said yes immediately. No mulling over to be done. He was really pleased.
Photo credit: Kathy Panama / Askonas Holt
LJN: So you’ll have to write parts out…?
KW: Yeah, this is my learning curve at the moment, because classical guitar is an instrument that I’ve never composed for, which might sound strange but because we haven’t worked together before etc… So, I’ve been kind of listening to various things. I was listening to some Joe Pass the other day and trying to get his voicings, ‘steal’ some information that I could use in a useful way (smiles).
LJN: What will you be playing?
KW: We haven’t decided the whole program. It will be a mixture of things – there will be a collection of new pieces which I’m writing specially for it. I thought, let’s have a few things that are completely fresh, no titles yet, but probably three or four short pieces grouped together. Then, at least one Bill Evans tune, but it won’t necessarily be one from the album, a tune or two from my septet CD, and Nuages by Django Reinhardt – something which was specifically written by a guitarist, I thought would be nice.
LJN: And the form of the evening?
KW: I think that Four Plus Three will kick off each set and then John’ll come on and join us.
LJN: The whole Four Plus Three, combining the classical string quartet and the jazz piano trio has been picking up momentum. I’m curious which are the classical composers that you gravitate towards…
KW: If I had to narrow it down, if I’m practising at home and just reading through classical stuff, the two composers which I always come back to are Bach and Ravel, they’re the two that kind of keep coming back…. maybe some of it seeps in somewhere. It kind of all goes into the pot, it all goes in there somewhere but you can’t always tell when something’s going to appear. I did accidentally quote something (assuming that I don’t edit the piece!) in one of the originals that I’ve written. I didn’t do it deliberately, but I realised soon afterwards: Oh, there’s a Ravel quote in there. Anyway, it’s staying in because it works with what follows. If you know the piece it’s quite obvious, but I won’t tell you what it is – you can hear it on the gig!
(*) With thanks to Sara Mitra for extensive help in the production of this piece.