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Jazzing up Welsh history

18 May 2024 4 minute read
Cwmwl Tystion III / Empathy.

 A pioneering project using jazz music to explore themes such as Welsh identity and history is set to conclude with the third and final part of Cwmwl Tystion which will be touring Wales this June.


Welsh trumpeter Tomos Williams has brought international musicians Melvin Gibbs (USA) and Nguyên Lê (France/Vietnam) to join young Welsh vocalists Eadyth Crawford and Mared Williams alongside Mark O’Connor on drums with live visuals from Simon Proffitt for an immersive  live performance entitled Cwmwl Tystion III / Empathy.

Mared Williams


Both Melvin Gibbs and Nguyên Lê are giants on the international jazz scene and their involvement in the project is a real coup.

Bringing musicians of this quality and reputation to tour Wales has always been a driving force for Tomos, and their willingness to be involved speaks to the serious intent of the project.

Nguyen Lê


The first iteration of Cwmwl Tystion – Cwmwl Tystion/Witness toured in 2019 and featured a cast of stellar Welsh musicians: Huw Warren, Rhodri Davies, Huw V Williams, while Cwmwl Tystion II / Riot! which toured in 2021 featured two giants of the UK jazz scene: Soweto Kinch and Orphy Robinson.

Both tours have been released as albums (TCR029, TCR043) with Cwmwl Tystion/ Witness being nominated for Welsh album of the year in 2021 and the composition The Riot! Suite being nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in Jazz Composition in 2022.

This third and final chapter in the Cwmwl Tystion project continues this progression to include international musicians of the highest calibre as well as young, fearless Welsh talent.

Full Band: Tân Fire

Landmark in jazz

The band will be an augmented power-trio and will perform a newly composed ‘Empathy Suite’ incorporating elements of jazz, rock, the avant-garde and Welsh folk music.

The name ‘Cwmwl Tystion’ is derived from a poem by the great Welsh poet and pacifist Waldo Williams, while the themes for each movement will be drawn from various events from the past and present of Welsh history.

Deeply inspired by the work of Wadada Leo Smith, the band Harriet Tubman and Matana Roberts’s Coin Coin project the third and final iteration of Cwmwl Tystion promises to be a landmark in Welsh jazz.

The tour will encompass all areas of Wales, with performances in Bangor, Wrexham, Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhayader, finishing the tour with a performance at Cafe OTO, London.

Melvin Gibbs

Tomos says: “I first saw Melvin Gibbs perform at the legendary Tonic in New York’s Lower East Side in 2001, and came across his band Harriet Tubman on MySpace (yes! MySpace!) a few years later.

“Harriet Tubman and their avant-rock political music have been a direct influence on the creation of ‘Cwmwl Tystion’, so to have Melvin agree to come to Wales and participate in this final instalment is incredible and a real privilege. No one else plays the electric bass quite like him.

“While I’ve also followed Nguyên Lê’s career for decades, having seen him perform numerous times with Trilok Gurtu at the Brecon Jazz Festival and Tommy Smith and Kenny Wheeler to name a few. He’ll bring his fusion chops and world-jazz  aesthetic to the music. Interestingly, Melvin and Nguyên have never performed together, so this will be a world first on Welsh soil”.


“Mared and Eadyth are also two of the leading lights in a new generation of Welsh vocalists, who are fearless creators.

“Eadyth was a member of the  ‘Cwmwl Tystion II / Riot!’ band while Mark O’Connor on drums and Simon Proffitt on live visuals have been involved in all three Cwmwl Tystion bands.”

‘The Cwmwl Tystion Empathy Suite’ has been funded by Tŷ Cerdd, and the tour is made possible by generous Arts Council of Wales financial support.

Tour Dates for Cwmwl Tystion III / Empathy are:

30/5/24 – Pontio, Bangor, with a Q and A after the performance

31/5/24 – Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham

1/6/24 – Theatr y Werin, Aberystwyth Arts Centre

5/6/24 – Lost ARC, Rhayader

6/6/24 – Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil, with a Q and A after the performance

7/6/24 – Dora Stoutzker Hall, Cardiff, RWCMD, with a Q and A after the performance

8/6/24  –  Cafe OTO, London

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