Tomos Williams

The Joy of Decks with Tomos Williams

Tomos Williams, trumpeter, Welsh jazz pioneer, and band leader of combos such as Burum, Khamira, and others, answers the first in our new Q&A series delving into leading Welsh musician’s listening habits and musical passions.

What record is on your turntable right now?

Miles Davis’ Black Beauty.

What’s the last great album you listened to?

Miles Davis’ Black Beauty.

Are there any classic albums that you only recently heard for the first time?

Don Cherry’s Organic Music Society.

What is the most vital ingredient of a great album?

Chemistry between the musicians, which creates a vibe most musicians/bands can only aspire to.

Describe your ideal listening experience (when, where, what, how).

Just at home when there’s nothing else going on. Vinyl or CD is OK with me.

What’s your favourite album no one else has heard of?

Neva Again by KAM.

What album should everybody get into before the age of 21?

Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday.

Which artists — musicians, singers, songwriters, producers — working today do you admire most?

Ambrose Akinmusire and Kendrick Lamarr.

Do you have any comfort albums?

John Coltrane’s Coltrane; Miles Davis’ My Funny Valentine Live in Concert ’64, and his Relaxin’ album; Horace Silver’s Song For My Father.

Do you think any “canonical” albums are widely misunderstood?

I’m sure most albums are misunderstood in some way.

What’s the best album you’ve received as a gift?

I’ve been receiving albums on birthdays and Christmas’ since I was about 8. One of the greats was when Daniel, my brother got me an Arturo Sandoval record called Turi for Christmas in 1989 (when I was 14). It was on vinyl and on the Cuban EGREM label. Not sure if there’s another vinyl copy of this in Wales!

What album do you recommend to people most often?

Tomas Stanko’s Litania (on ECM)

How do you organize your records?

I’m a proper anorak. So some are record labels, then artists within that record label. (But not alphabetical!). Then I have sections like jazz, Hip-hop, classical, folk, soul, other stuff but they’re not in any order within that section!

What’s the most interesting thing you learned about an album recently?

Steve Grossman is the saxophonist on Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson album.

Which genres do you especially enjoy listening to? And which do you avoid?

Jazz and hip-hop. I avoid Indie, singer-songwriter stuff and pop. A bunch of white guys with guitars are generally to be avoided.

What album might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene.

Is there any album in your record collection you desperately wish you’d made?

Wu Tang Clan’s Return to the 36 Chambers.

How have your listening tastes changed over time?

I used to be pretty puritanical. I hope I’m much more open now.

You’re organizing a party. Which three artists, dead or alive, do you invite?

Dizzy Gillespie, Ryan Davies and Chuck-D.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What album did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t?

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Any upcoming albums you’re really looking forward to?

Anything new by Harriet Tubman is always exciting or Wadada Leo Smith. It’ll be interesting to see what Kendrick Lamarr does next, too.