Published Nov 11, 2019The long-running DJ-Kicks series hits another high note with South London jazz and rare groove master Kamaal Williams. The CD/download version squeezes 29 tracks into a nearly 77-minute pleasure cruise; a double vinyl package focuses on a dozen entries.
The man behind the deck shows up in various forms on the playlist: as Kamaal Williams, Henry Wu (his real name) and in partnership with Earl Jeffers and Wu's band Yussef Kamaal. With a lesser artist, this could come off as egotistical. Not so here.
Wu has elevated this genre and he excels at the DJ-set LP format. His ability to place artists that inspired him coming up into a more modern context is powerful. It celebrates the work and at the same time moves the rest of us to dig deeper into the history of this incredible music.
He writes in the album's notes about "connecting the lineage and giving respect to the creators — those undervalued heroes of this British dance landscape." So we get Dego's Hashim-esque "Nuts" up next to Wu's "Wivout You." Hearing that sample, made famous on "Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)" back in '83 is more than an exercise in nostalgia. It is a respectful shout-out and a reminder that all of this connects.
While much of this material is available elsewhere, there are a few exclusives. Watch for new Kamaal Williams material "Shinjuku" and "Strings (ATL)." There's also the aforementioned "Wivout U" and a sharp live version of "Snitches Brew." (!K7)