Steve Williams

Steve’s 20 favourite albums of 2019:

Setting aside the archival (like John Coltrane’s ‘Blue World’) and reissues (like the Nat Birchall Quintet ‘Live in Larissa’ remastering) most dear to me this year with pure new releases on this list first out in 2019.

1. Mark Lomax II – 400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia)

2. Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Orchestra with Brooklyn Raga Massive – Ragmala: A Garland of Ragas (Meta)

3. BRAHJA (aka Devin Brahja Waldman) – Brahja (RR Gems)

4. The Curtis Brothers – Algorithm (Truth Revolution)

5. Mikkel Nordsø Quintet – Out There (Stunt)

6. Scopes – Scopes (Whirlwind Recordings)

7. Scatter The Atoms That Remain – Exultation (Dot Time)

8. Leon Maria Plecity – Otherworld (JazzHausMusik)

9. Nat Birchall – The Storyteller – A Musical Tribute to Yusef Lateef (Jazzman)

10. Mark Lotz Trio – The Wroclaw Sessions (Audio Cave)

11. Muriel Grossmann – Reverence (RR Gems / Dreamlandrecords)

12. Benjamin Boone / Philip Levine – The Poetry of Jazz Vol. 2 (Origin)

13. Ashley Henry – Beautiful Vinyl Hunter (Sony Music)

14. Alexi Tuomarila Trio – Sphere (Edition)

15. Plume – Escaping The Dark Side (jazz&people)

16. Club d’Elf – Night Sparkles Live (Face Pelt)

17. Etuk Ubong – Tales of Life (Jazzaggression)

18. Petter Eldh – Koma Saxo (We Jazz)

19. Jason Palmer – Rhyme and Reason (Giant Step Arts)

20. Peter Lin & TNT Quartet – New Age Old Ways (Self-released)


It all started circa 1983, a Vespa scooter gave me the freedom during my final year of secondary school to visit a local Birmingham record shop during my lunch hour. Back then I was buying Motown and stuff like The Animals and The Spencer Davis Group, visiting the odd Northern Soul and ‘Scooter’ night, and shaking off having been through a big Blondie phase in my earlier years. My earliest musical recollection was debating The Jackson 5 and The Osmonds with my father… he was in to Nat King Cole, whilst my mother enjoyed a little Mario Lanza. We had many records in the house.

I had this urge for something musical that I couldn’t put my finger on. I bought Carl Anderson’s ‘Buttercup’ on 7″ from a department store in Birmingham in 1985 just as things started to fall into place. Out went lots of vinyl and my quest for 2-step and the entire Curtom (Curtis Mayfield) catalogue took hold with ‘Rare Groove’ coming to Birmingham via Tim Westwood (yes Tim Westwood) as he played out an all-dayer with Maceo & The Macks’ “Cross The Track (We Better Go Back)” and The Jackson Sisters’ “I Believe In Miracles” – the crowd paid little notice as they left The Powerhouse but I was hooked. This was it!

Hop skip and jump a day or two and I was spending every waking hour in a record shop. Manchester, London, Birmingham – wherever the groove took me. It was at this time a school friend, Flirty Berty, invited me to join ‘Crush Pack Connection’ sound system to add a little of the so-called ‘Rare Groove’ people were eager for (after they had exhausted the wallpaper music [Lovers Rock]), with Omar’s “There’s Nothing Like This” and Stavue’s “Body Fusion” real crowd pleasers.

But what of the jazz I hear you ask? ,Well the all-dayers had a jazz room and the likes of Chris Reid were playing unbelievable music with only a handful of dancers at the time. I had not a clue what any of the music was. Even resting the album covers on top of the record boxes for me to see made no difference – I hadn’t heard of any of it.


With no internet, magazines or even friends into this music, I had no chance of finding the music I really dug. Yeah, there were endless Robbie Vincent shows and the odd Gilles Peterson gig but without the all-dayers, I really was left out in the cold.


It was also in 1990 that I was invited on to Metro FM to do a pirate radio jazz show with my good friend, Donald Palmer, and together we played Roy Ayers, Jon Lucien, Airto, Tania Maria etc. to the Birmingham black community. This took me off to do a show alone on Power FM and then PCRL (the longest running pirate radio station). From there in 1993 I set up VIBE magazine – our first issue hit the streets on January 1st, but after a few issues we noticed Quincy Jones had launched his own magazine of the same name so added the UK prefix to stop any confusion.. ha!

I’ve added a bunch of my 90s radio shows to if you fancy a laugh (at my expense).

decoy-1996Just 17 issues later and we had interviewed Archie Shepp, Nnenna Freelon, Carmen Lundy, The Roots, Nana Vasconcelos, Gary Bartz, Terry Callier, Branford Marsalis, Rachelle Farrell… well, you get the picture. I was going to Dingwalls on a Sunday, Mr. Smith in Warrington on a Wednesday, various nights around the Midlands, oh, and Rock City in Nottingham, Manchester from time to time, and the obligatory Brighton Jazz-Bop… But times were difficult. The team were hand delivering the printed magazines to record shops around the country – Tower Records, Soul Brother, Decoy, Same Beat, Soul Jazz, and so on. Yes we had great advertising and no shortage of contributors, but it was all a bit too much. Deadlines, distribution, cash-flow and Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all put a stop to the printing.


Then along came around 2002. We have added a few of the old articles to the site and growing each day. We are trying to fight off the advertisers – keeping it real, as they say.

You can now catch my monthly mix on the last Thursday of each month over at Blue In Green Radio where I try to highlight much of the new music coming through to UK Vibe. Head over to the Mixcloud page to catch up on the archive.

Talking of archives, our own Mixcloud page is also worth visiting as the team often fire up their enthusiasm with mixes including myself.

I’ll be adding to this from time to time as my fading memory sparks up. The team hope you enjoy our pages. Black music is a colourful place to relax, to dance, to be.


Editor, publisher, loose leaf tea drinker, bean-to-bar chocolate enthusiast, husband and father.

Steve’s 40 favourite albums of 2018:

This year brought many great releases. I have cut away at the reissues and previously unreleased albums (of which there were many this year) to narrow this down to music released for the first time in 2018.

1. Muriel Grossmann – Golden Rule (RR Gems)
Review here

2. Jamie Saft Quartet – Blue Dream (RareNoise)
Review here

3. Sinsuke Fujieda – Hyper Harmony (SoFa)

4. Woven Entity – Two (Enid)
Review here

5. Ill Considered – 3 (Ill Considered Music)
Review here

6. Ayanda Sikade – Movements (Self-released)
Review here

7. Benjamin Boone / Philip Levine – The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)
Review here

8. Web Web – Dance Of The Demons (Compost)
Review here

9. Nat Birchall – Cosmic Language (Jazzman)
Review here

10. Uri Gurvich – Kinship (Jazz Family)
Review here

11. 1000 Kings – Raw Cause (Jazz re:freshed)
Review here

12. Eric Harland’s Voyager – 13th Floor (GSI)

13. Adrien Chicot – City Walk (Gaya Music Production)
Review here

14. Bruno Råberg Trio – Tailwind (Red Piano)
Review here

15. İlhan Erşahin’s Istanbul Sessions – Solar Plexus (Nublu)
Review here

16. Itamar Borochov – Blue Nights (Laborie Jazz)
Review here

17. Mopo – Mopocalypse (We Jazz)
Review here

18. Nomadic Treasures (Avishai Darash) – Nomadic Treasures (A.MA)
Review here

19. Sam Javitch Quartet – People and Places (Self-released)
Review here

20. Jeff “Siege” Siegel Quartet – London Live (Artists Recording Collective)
Review here

21. Ethan Ardelli – The Island Of Form (Self-released)
Review here

22. Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge – The Midnight Hour (Linear Labs)

23. Angles 3 – Parede (Clean Feed)

24. Petter Wettre Trio – In Color (Household)

25. Jay Rodriguez – Your Sound: Live At Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (Whaling City Sound)

26. Erik Friedlander – Artemisia (Skipstone)

27. Julian Brezon – The Deep Light (707365 Records DK)

28. Piotr Wojtasik – Tribute to Akwarium (Indygo)

29. Simon Chivallon – Flying Wolf (Jazz Family)

30. Mark Wade Trio – Moving Day (Self-released)

31. Martti Vesala Soundpost Quintet – Stars Aligned (Ozella Music)

32. Sasha Mashin – Outsidethebox (Rainy Days)

33. Thomas Bramerie Trio – Side Stories (Jazz Eleven)

34. Roberto Granados – Soñador (VGo Recordings)

35. Malin Wättring 4 with Bohuslän Big Band – Harvest (Havtorn)

36. Sarathy Korwar – My East Is Your West (Gearbox)

37. Henri Texier – Sand Woman (Label Bleu)

38. Menagerie – The Arrow Of Time (Freestyle)

39. Xavier Davis – Rise Up Detroit (Detroit Music Factory)

40. Andreas Varady – The Quest (Resonance)

Steve’s 40 favourite albums of 2017:

(In no order)

Adrien Chicot – Playing In The Dark (Gaya Music Production)

Angles 9 – Disappeared Behind The Sun (Clean Feed)

Anne Quillier 6tet – Dusty Shelters (Label Pince-Oreilles)

Antonio Lizana – Oriente (Sony Music)

Black Motor – Branches (We Jazz)

Cat Toren’s Human Kind (Self-released)

Charles Lloyd New Quartet – Passin’ Thru (Blue Note)

Collocutor – The Search (On The Corner)

Esperanza Spalding – Exposure (Concord)

Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble – Monk Dreams, Hallucinations and Nightmares (Red Piano)

Georges-Edouard Nouel ‎– Chodo 1975 (Rebirth On Wax) Reissue

Ill Considered ‎– Ill Considered (Ill Considered Music)

Jaimie Branch – Fly or Die (International Anthem)

Khaled Kurbeh And Raman Khalef Ensemble – Aphorisms (Between Buttons)

Ludere – Retratos (Blaxtream)

Matteo Pastorino – Suite for Modigliani (Challenge)

Minco Eggersman – Kavkasia (Volkoren)

Nicole M. Mitchell & Haki R. Madhubuti – Liberation Narratives (Third World Press)

Nitin Sawhney – Live at Ronnie Scott’s (Gearbox)

Okay Temiz – Zikir (Ada Müzik) Reissue

Pacific Express ‎– Black Fire 1976 (Matsuli Music) Reissue

Robert Mitchell – A Vigil For Justice. A Vigil For Peace (Depth Of Field)

Salim Washington – Sankofa (Self-released)

Samuel Eagles’ SPIRIT – Ask, Seek, Knock (Whirlwind)

Shahin Novrasli – Emanation (Jazz Village)

Sibusile Xaba – Open Letter to Adoniah/Unlearning (Mushroom Hour)

Søren Nissen – Departures (Self-released)

Terje Gewelt – Wow And Flutter (Resonant Music)

Terje Rypdal – Bleak House 1968 (Round 2) Reissue

Terry Pack’s Trees – Heart of Oak (Symbol)

Timothy McNealy ‎– Funky Movement (Now-Again)

Tobias Meinhart – Silent Dreamer (Enja)

Tom Haines & The Birmingham Jazz Orchestra – Live (Self-released)

Tony Tixier – Life Of Sensitive Creatures (Whirlwind Recordings)

Toxic: Mat Walerian, Matthew Shipp, William Parker ‎– This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People (ESP-Disk)

Uri Gurvich – Kinship (Jazz Family)

Verneri Pohjola – Pekka (Edition)

Wadada Leo Smith – Najwa (TUM)

Wildflower – Wildflower (Self-released)

Zephyr Avalon ‎– Zephyr Avalon (Beakerbox)

Steve’s favourite tracks of 2017:

(In no order)

Web Web – Journey to No End [LP: Oracle] Compost

Arnaud Dolmen – Tonbé Lévé [LP: Tonbé Lévé] Ma Case

Tobias Meinhart – Equality [LP: Silent Dreamer] Enja

Kondi Band – Geibai Gpanga Ne Gna [LP: Salone] Strut

Shahin Novrasli – Jungle [LP: Emanation] Jazz Village

Zephyr Avalon – Suspect [LP: Zephyr Avalon] Beakerbox

Uri Gurvich – Go Down Moses [LP: Kinship] Jazz Family

Andrew Bain – Accompaniment [LP: Embodied Hope] Whirlwind

Tony Burkill – Work Money Death [LP: Work Money Death] ATA

Eero Koivistoinen Quartet – Hallanvaara [LP: Illusion] Svart

Radio Citizen – Danse Dance [LP: Silent Guide] Sonar Kollektiv

Harold Land ‎– Dark Mood [LP: A New Shade Of Blue] WEWANTSOUNDS

Terrence Ngassa – Toupouri [LP: Ngassalogy Vol. 3] Housemaster

Jaska Lukkarinen Trio – Beauty Passing By [LP: Origami] We Jazz

Terry Pack’s Trees – Scarborough Fair [LP: Heart of Oak] Symbol

Salim Washington – A Stritch in Time [LP: Sankofa] Self-released

Art Fristoe Trio – Seventh-Four Walkup [LP: DoubleDown] Merry Lane

Terje Rypdal – Dead Man’s Tale [LP: Bleak House 1968] Round 2 reissue

The James L’Estraunge Orchestra – See You Tonight [LP: Eventual Reality] BBE

Thomas De Pourquery: Supersonic – Sons Of Love [LP: Sons of Love] Label Bleu

Angles 9 – Disappeared Behind The Sun [LP: Disappeared Behind The Sun] Clean Feed

Sugaray Rayford – Don’t Regret A Mile [LP: The World That We Live In] Blind Faith

Tony Tixier – Blind Jealousy of a Paranoid [LP: Life Of Sensitive Creatures] Whirlwind

Sibusiso “Mash” Mashiloane – I Remember Sisa [LP: Rotha: A Tribute to Mama] Self-released

Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble – Minor Thing [LP: The Spirit of Trane] Fanfare

Irreversible Entanglements – Fireworks [LP: Irreversible Entanglements] International Anthem

Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble – Rhymes [LP: Monk Dreams, Hallucinations and Nightmares] Red Piano

Hermeto Pascoal – Casinha Pequenina [LP: Viajando Com O Som – The Lost ’76 Vice-Versa Studio Session] Far Out Recordings

Paul McCandless with the Paul Winter Consort – All The Mornings Bring [LP: Morning Sun: Adventures with Oboe] Living Music

Wadada Leo Smith – Ohnedaruth John Coltrane: The Master of Kosmic Music and His Spirituality in a Love Supreme [LP: Najwa] TUM

Steve Williams’ Best of 2016:

1. Naïssam Jalal & Rhythms of Resistance – Almot Wala Almazala (Les Couleurs Du Son)

2. Nat Birchall – Creation (Sound Soul and Spirit) Review here

3. Steinar Aadnekvam – Freedoms Trio (Losen)

4. Alchemy Sound Project – Further Explorations (Artists Recording Collective)

5. Bänz Oester & The Rainmakers – Ukuzinikela [Live in Willisau] (Enja Yellowbird) Review here

6. Nduduzo Makhathini with Umgidi Trio & One Voice Vocal Ensemble – Inner Dimensions (Gundu) Review here

7. Clarice & Sérgio Assad – Relíquia (Adventure Music) Review here

8. Samy Thiébault – Rebirth (Gaya Music Productions)

9. Trio Elf – MusicBoxMusic (Enja Yellowbird)

10. Siya Makuzeni Sextet – Out Of This World (Self-released) Review here

11. Sébastien Jarrousse – Old Fellow (Gaya Music Productions)

12. Sarathy Korwar – Day to Day (Ninja Tune / Steve Reid Foundation) Review here

13. Empirical – Connection (Cuneiform) Review here

14. Myele Manzanza – OnePointOne [Live at the Blue Whale, Los Angeles] (First Word)

15. Azymuth – Fênix (Far Out) Review here

16. Jim Snidero – MD66 (Savant)

17. Pulsar Trio ‎– Cäthes Traum (T3)

18. Spare Parts – Warehaus West Sessions (Ropeadope) Review here

19. Carlos Vega – Bird’s Ticket (Origin)

20. Arnan Raz – Second to the Left (Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit) Review here

Steve Williams’ Best of 2015:

1. Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance (Blue Note) Review here

2. Afrika Mkhize – Rain Dancer (Self-released) Review here

3. Ibrahim Maalouf – Kalthoum (Impulse!) Review here

4. Zim Ngqawana – Greatest Moments [Best Of] (Gallo)

5. Géraud Portal & Etienne Déconfin – Brothers (Gaya Music Production) Review here

6. Nat Birchall – Invocations (Jazzman) Review here

7. Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet – Family First (Beat Music Productions) Review here

8. Fabiano do Nascimento – Dança dos Tempos (Now-Again) Review here

9. Makaya McCraven – In The Moment (International Anthem) Review here

10. Artyom Manukyan – Citizen (Ghost Note) Review here

11. Lucas Arruda – Solar (Favorite France) Review here

12. Brian Ellis Group – Escondido Sessions (El Paraiso) Review here

13. Sebastian Studnitzky – Memento (Contemplate)

14. Nate Wooley – (Dance to) The Early Music (Clean Feed)

15. Kenny Wheeler – Songs for Quintet (ECM) Review here

16. Gael Horellou – Synthesis (DTC) Review here

17. Emanative – The Light Years of The Darkness (Steve Reid Foundation / Brownswood) Review here

18. Pó de Café Quarteto – Amérika (Self-released)

19. Donny McCaslin – Fast Future (Grean Leaf)

20. Verneri Pohjola – Bullhorn (Edition) Review here

Astral Travelling Since 1993