Kamaal Williams has always been a man of many talents. From the shuffling Peckham house style of his output as Henry Wu to the deep, expansive jazz he made in Yussef Kamaal, each new Williams release gives us a greater sense of his musical aesthetic while simultaneously expanding his sonic palette ever further.
With Wu Hen, his sophomore solo record, Williams locks down his multifaceted output to a single term – Wu Funk. At its core, Wu Funk is a sort of Millennial take on jazz fusion – funk-flecked grooves often dictate the state of play here, and there is a similar painterliness to many of the timbres and chords. An old-school sensibility is even acknowledged by name on third track ‘1989’.
However, Wu Funk is very much a style of the here and now, one that reflects the wide-ranging aesthetic of the London jazz scene in which Williams has come up. ‘Toulouse’ and ‘Pigalle’ are gorgeous, strutting instrumentals; ‘Hold On’ and ‘Street Dreams’ are weightless spiritual numbers that ascend to the heavens, bolstered by guest spots from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Lauren Faith respectively; the dance-oriented sensibilities of the Henry Wu records are shown to be in good nick on several occasions, most prominently in the ebullient breakbeat fusion of ‘One More Time’.