Comments on the ‘The Chaser Years’:
The Photographic Art of Pete Williams’ at Maverik Showrooms
I loved Peter’s exhibition. It brought back memories of the type faces and moods that I have seen so much in my life. There is no doubt… playing music does something to faces. I especially liked the shot of Skip McDonald. I worked with him at Sugar Hill Records in the 80’s and seeing his photo opened up some memory vaults deep within my head. That’s the magic of photography. Marshall Chess: Chess Records
Peter Williams’ The Chaser Years brought a tear to my eye. From the intensity of Nina Simone to the humility of Steve Reid, Peter has a knack of pulling the most natural out of the most complicated…a memorable collection that I sincerely hope gets repeated soon.
Gilles Peterson: BBC Radio 1 Worldwide / Brownswood
The Chaser Years exhibition is a visual walk thru time via independent underground music worldwide, showcasing innovators of traditional music forms known, and pioneers of new musical forms. It is essential inspiration for any independent aspiring musician, producer, selector, writer, photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, editor, or artist to see. Prime visual example of what a music magazine was and should aspire to be.
Theo Parrish: DJ /Producer, Sound Signature (Detroit)
Few magazines ever tried to create so many distinct elements and got so many right as Chaser. From Swifty’s distinctive fonts and layouts to the paper it was printed on, Chaser always felt different. And there were these remarkable musical characters who appeared impossibly interesting as we came out of the drabness of indie bands and the anonymity of house music. Imaginatively detailed by Chaser’s editors and writers, they were forever captured in a moment by Peter Williams’ jazz verité lens. Edgy, unique, imaginative but always truer than anyone else’s images, Peter Williams made it not only possible to believe in a world far more wonderful and offbeat than the one we’d been led to believe existed, he took us there and defied us to become part of the story, part of a scene and part of a vision of humanity as eclectic, diverse and at times wondrous (even if others dismissed it as weird, irrelevant or marginal). Seeing those images again, a few hundred yards from Chaser’s legendary Hoxton home, was bittersweet. These beautiful prints, like distinct islands making up an archipelago of OUR times and OUR truths and OUR peoples, stare back at you daring you to carry on the torch, be you musician, writer, blogger, beatnik or photographer. They demand you live more, even if it hurts sometimes and people think you are mad or at best wasting your time. What more can you ask of art?
Damian Rafferty: Editor and Publisher of Fly / Global Music Culture
“The contrast between the stark white walls of the Maverick gallery and the sharply defined but strikingly organic black and white images from Pete Williams’ career retrospective immediately brought to mind the lost underground world of jazz. Impulse, Blue Note, Presige, Vogue… Evocative and timeless. I was impressed”.
Eddie Piller: Acid Jazz Records
Wow! what an amazing exhibition!!! I felt super inspired after seeing all the photos & also emotionally worn out after a big rewind of over a decade of amazing pictures, memories & culture. So many highlights of the photos altogether in one place.. Two personal faves were the picture of The Roots @ Maida Vale. Looking super fresh & captured their energy…Another personal highlight was the picture of Steve Reid, in fact, it made me cry! Having met him through out the years working with Gilles P & getting to know him Peter captured the true beautiful spirit of an amazing man. All I can say is I wish it had been there for longer so I could have seen it a couple of times. Thank you & please put on another exhibition very soon!
Karen P: Folded Wing, Radio Producer (Jamie Cullum BBC3 + Red Bull Academy)
Pete Williams’ The Chaser Years was a very important document of key figures at the cutting edge of great black music that was truly ‘ancient to future.’ The portraits were refreshingly spontaneous and down to earth, charismatic and noble, if not regal. Cleveland Watkiss hanging loose with a basketball and Yusef Lateef gazing into the distance like a sage typified this.
Kevin Le Gendre: Journalist / broadcaster
In music journalism the power of the message so often goes beyond words and that’s where the images of Pete Williams pick up the slack. At The Chaser Years I got to meet the lens man himself and learned about the challenge he faced in shooting Yusef Lateef – an artist who has had a huge influence on my life. Pete really understood the impact that this timeless image of Yusef would have on the readership and like many other photographs in this show it stamps a lasting impression that will continue to resonate in my memory. In line with my favourite Jungle Brothers maxim Pete Williams’ photography successfully challenges the so called need to cross over as he consistently mirrors the music’s message and conveys the artist’s essence and integrity without diluting either.
Will Page: Chief Economist PRS for Music
A few years ago, Pete Williams traveled with me to Alabama and Nashville to document the recording of the Country Soul Revue. As someone with considerable skills I had high expectations of this exhibition and I wasn’t disappointed. I was familiar with a lot of images from Straight No Chaser but the annotations underneath each image gave them a real sense of time and place – like the Herbie Hancock portrait and the tale of how Pete had pissed him off prior to the shoot. I suppose the Miles Davis picture is the Piece de Resistance. Such a legend, and the story of its taking is classic – maybe ignorance really is bliss! Not that I’m an expert but I do know what flicks my switches. I love the way he takes his shots, black and white with all that texture and real depth of field. The character of the person seems to jump out of the picture. There were so many that I took a shine to – Linton Kwesi Johnson, Oumou Sangare… the powerful portraits of the musicians from the Pan African Orchestra that graced each of the room. Then there were the ones that I felt part of – Reggie Young in Nashville displaying the hands that played the guitar parts in ‘Suspicious Minds’ and the shot of the Straight No Chaser crew in Hoxton Square. Lots of old faces… good times! Pete Williams is one of the most amiable people you could wish to meet and ‘The Chaser Years…’ confirms that he is also a brilliant photographer
Ross Allen: A&R Island / Ministry Of Sound radio / Casual Management
These photographs are incredible portals, you get a kind of charged shock off them as they connect you to these moments with the artists. I loved the flow in this exhibition, the way it documents key music scenes across a twenty year period, right when they were breaking through. It was a reminder and a tribute to Straight No Chaser’s visionary direction, how they championed young artists, and spotlit under-exposed talent as well as giving due honour to the greats. You ricochet between a very young Courtney Pine, a shamanistic Yusef Lateef and formidable Nina Simone. Month after month in the magazine, Pete William’s contribution was a core part of Chaser’s look and feel, but seeing all these images together, it really struck me what a valuable body of work this is. His personal notes with each photo, moving and often funny descriptions of what was happening at each shot, are a testament to his obvious hard graft and charm as well as his inspired eye. And these are stunningly beautiful photographs, there’s just so much feeling in them and the style of each one seems uniquely attuned to each artist. I didn’t know all the artists in this exhibition, but having looked them in the eyes, it made we want to go listen to their music. Phenomenal work, made with heart, just brilliant.
Jody Gillett: Editor, www.mondomix.com