Kamaal Williams

Urban Jazz
© Glauco Canalis / Salem Wazaki
© Glauco Canalis / Salem Wazaki

The album title can be understood as a playful joke: The Return is keyboarder Kamaal Williams’ debut – the Englishman had never been away. As Henry Wu, Williams became a much-sought-after house producer; his band Yussef Kamaal, which was based on live sounds, was one of 2016’s most exciting newcomers. Williams now continues on the path of that short-lived duo with his own trio: he says creating jazz-funk in the style of the 1970s Herbie Hancock albums had always been a dream of his.

That the South Londoner, who has achieved an effortless mastery of Hancockian grooves and Stevie Wonder-inspired chords, never sounds backward looking is, according to Williams himself, down to his love of broken beats and hip-hop. What was designed for London’s sweaty basement clubs has long made the leap to bigger stages: a terrific genre-crossover that invites you to dance and drift away.