Bobby Wellins & Kate Williams Smoke and Mirrors
(kwjazz745, CD Review by Chris Parker. Available from JazzCDs )
Although pianist Kate Williams and tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins have been working together in various contexts for around five years now, this is their first duo recording.
Their respective approaches – Williams a thoughtful, unshowy soloist, relying on subtle but telling rhythmic displacement and clear tonal beauty for her considerable effect, Wellins similarly circumspect, his celebrated tone and timbre rendering his playing uniquely affecting – make their partnership both natural-sounding and musically satisfying, and their judicious choice of material showcases their individual and collaborative skills perfectly.
Their originals range from the appropriately evanescent title-track to a tastefully quirky blue (“P.S.”), their standards from the relatively tricksy (and seldom-played) “While We were Young” to a delightfully sly visit to “The Man I Love” and a sumptuous version of Jobim’s “If You Never Come to Me”, but whatever they’re playing exudes elegance, taste and refinement that at times borders on the exquisite.