John Williamson | The Northern Sea | July 12, 2024

Leading UK Jazz label Ubuntu Music proudly presents the signing and release of bassist/composer John Williamson’s debut album. Featuring an all-star cast of the modern British jazz scene, ‘The Northern Sea’ is set to release on July 12th

Hailing from Saltburn-by-the-sea in the Northeast of England, Williamson’s career has seen him live and work in Leeds, Washington DC now London, where he has played with renowned musicians including Helena Kay, Dominic Ingham, Nigel Price, Jo Harrop, Paul Edis, Vasilis Xenopoulos, Matt Anderson, and Sam Braysher and studied with leading lights such as Kit Downes, Jim Hart and Orlando Le Fleming.

Each piece on the record developed from a small fragment, honed and reworked in duo practice sessions in corridors, large-ensemble rehearsals, and intimate jazz club gigs around the UK. The five other band members comprise some of the UK’s finest improvisers and composers. Each – along with producer Nikki Iles – have played an important role in the development of the material. Together, the music expresses the tension between love for a sound, idea or place and accompanying feelings of subversion or doubt.

With influences including Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Radiohead, Charles Mingus and Carla Bley, the music encompasses a wide range of feelings, approaches and ensemble arrangements. Angular post-bop (‘Contrafact 1’) sits alongside big-sky, Americana-inspired folk (‘2700 Q Street Northwest’) and anthemic contemporary jazz (‘The Northern Sea’). 

The album is united by a ‘melody-first’ writing style. Each piece stays true to the core melodic line, whether that melody is pushing against the boundaries of a conventional harmonic structure of a jazz standard, or working as a scaffold for something more unusual. Arranged for a variety of lineups from duo to full sextet, the record’s sound puts the commitment and invention of each musician in the spotlight, interpreting and manipulating Williamson’s written material with a strong sense of identity and purpose

The sextet will be celebrating the release with an album launch show at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, London on the 4th of July.

Line up

John Williamson | Double Bass
Alex Hitchcock | Tenor Saxophone
Jonny Mansfield | Vibraphone
Jay Davis | Drums
Immy Wilson | Voice
Alex Wilson | Piano
Nikki Iles | Producer

Track Listing

Contrafact 1
Gozo
Intro To The Northern Sea
The Northern Sea
Nothing Grows In Concrete Contrafact 2
Get Out While It’s Light
Contrafact 3
Other People’s Dreams
2700 Q Street Northwest
Gozo (Duo)

Cuttings