A fabulous feast of festive songs
It’s hard to imagine a more festive album than Big Band Wonderland from Gary Williams. Recorded with full big band and featuring duets with Clare Teal and Michael Feinstein, it’s packed with sparkling new interpretations of all time holiday classics like Let It Snow, Sleigh Ride and Winter Wonderland.
For all of Gary’s enthusiasm, Big Band Wonderland was almost never made. “I’d only got so far as commissioning the new music for the big band when I realised how expensive it was going to be. I decided to reach out to friends and fans with a crowd-funding appeal. I put £10,000 in myself and set a target of 30 days to raise the other £15,000. After the first day we got £12,665! In the end we raised almost £18,000.”
For someone who can’t get enough of Christmas, Gary was something of a late starter. “I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness,” he explains, “so I didn’t celebrate Christmas till I was sixteen years old. When all my mates where out singing carols I was sitting at home cataloguing my stamp collection! Maybe that’s why I love Christmas so much now, I’m making up for lost time.” After waiting sixteen years, Gary still remembers his very first Christmas present, “It was a yo-yo!”
His live Christmas show was given five stars by the the London Evening Standard which described Gary as “…the UK’s leading standard bearer for the supercool era”. He’s recorded nine studio albums, including three at Abbey Road, but celebrated writer Tony Hatch reckons this is his best yes, calling it, “A fabulous feast of seasonal songs!”
After a recent appearance on Gaby Roslin’s radio show she told him, “You make me feel drunk with smiles and happiness”. No doubt he’ll do the same for you after you’ve enjoyed Big Band Wonderland – the perfect way to celebrate the season.
“Each year there are many new Christmas albums released. Often there is one of them that stands out from the rest. Such an album is Big Band Wonderland by Gary Williams, a singer of classic popular songs from England. He swings, and has a voice that lies easily on your ears. The Sinatra influence is there, but he is not an imitator, rather a cat who has learned his lessons well, and is his own man. Williams is backed by a terrific big band with charts from four arrangers, Phil Steel, Paul Campbell, Andrew Cottee and Callum Au, each of whom has done a stellar job of setting Williams smooth stylings in very hip surroundings. This is the kind of collection that you could put on at a Christmas party, and set it on replay. The joyous sounds will surely keep things jolly! So get your order in early to insure that it will cross the ocean in time for your Christmas celebrations.” Joe Lang of Jersey Jazz
“Festive fun from the Rat Pack revivalist Gary Williams” Clive Davis, The Sunday Times
“A fabulous feast of festive songs” Tony Hatch
“There are many Christmas compilations albums around, but this one brings freshness to the familiar standards as Williams glides with consummate ease, adding his interpretation to such numbers as ‘Sleigh Ride’, ‘Let It Snow’, and ‘Jingle Bells’. Even old Rudolph benefits. His familiar story seems to fade into the background, thus allowing the listener to concentrate on the band’s fine accompaniment.” Click here to read the full review. Musical Theatre Review