The David Rees-Williams Trio was formed in 1988 featuring David Rees-Williams on piano, Neil Francis on bass guitar and Phil Laslett on drums. Based in Canterbury, Kent, they have performed many concerts in a diverse selection of festivals and events in the UK, Europe, The United States and Barbados. They specialize in a programme that unites the best of classical and jazz. They first caught the imagination of Radio 3 listeners when David’s arrangement of Purcell’s When I am Laid in Earth from their privately recorded album Classically Minded was played by Sean Rafferty on In Tune in the summer of 2001. The response was extraordinary, and the producer of the programme was inundated with enquiries. This subsequently led to the trio being invited by The BBC to record a commercial disc on their new Late Junction label.
Hidden Colours was released in May 2002, featuring David’s arrangements of Purcell, Bach, Grieg, Faure, Franck, Debussy and Ravel. It received excellent reviews in The Times and The Independent on Sunday and shortly after its release, was Editor’s Choice in HMV Choice Magazine. It then went on to become No 2 of HMV’s 10 Best Classical discs of 2002. It was also rated best of its genre by The Financial Times in its end of year album review of world music for 2002.
In September 2004, Time Scape was released, featuring arrangements of works by Ravel, Bach, Chopin, Stanford, Purcell, Buxtehude, Elgar, Warlock and Bossi. It received 4-star reviews in The Sunday Times, The Independent on Sunday and Jazzwise magazine. It was also named as one of the top ten CDs of 2004 by Clive Davis in The Sunday Times Culture Magazine in December 2004.
Thinking Allowed was released in February 2007 and was featured regularly on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM’s new station The Jazz. It was widely and unanimously acclaimed as one of the outstanding albums of its genre.
Back From Before followed in 2010, again receiving excellent reviews including an enthusiastic one from John Fordham in The Guardian.
David’s first solo album Full English was released in the summer of 2012 to coincide with the Jubilee celebrations. This was followed shortly by the trio’s most recent recording Ex-Mass. Both have received outstanding reviews in publications such as Gramophone, The Arts Desk and Classics Today. Tracks from Full English have been played on Radio 2, and Ex-Mass was chosen by David Mellor as one of the best Christmas discs to be reviewed on his New Releases programme on Classic FM in December 2012.
The Trio was also featured on Claire Martin’s programme Jazz Line Up in January 2012, when she played excerpts, recorded live by the BBC, from their performance at the Scarborough Jazz Festival in September 2011.
They were once again invited to be guests of Sean Rafferty on a Christmas edition of In Tune in December 2012 where they performed tracks from Ex-Mass.
Until 2002, Neil Francis enjoyed a dual career as teacher and freelance bass guitarist. He now devotes most of his time to his playing but also spends some time teaching bass guitar.
His performance work has embraced disciplines as diverse as improvised trio jazz, blues, rock, studio sessions, and for him, most importantly, the classically inspired cross-over style featured by the David Rees-Williams Trio.
For more than three decades, Phil Laslett has built a solid reputation as an extremely versatile player backing a variety of international artists in his own right. For many years he led his own quartet specializing in modern jazz arrangements. Reviews of The David Rees-Williams Trio frequently compliment his playing for its subtlety and musicianship.