So…. Dave Stapleton, Gwilym Simcock, Zoe Rahman, Kit Downes, Alcyona Mick, and now John Turville. Sure are a lot of good young piano players around in the UK, and doubtless plenty more I haven’t heard/heard of yet.
Can’t remember if I’d heard of Turville before, in fact. But here he was, with a cracking trio, first night of a brief tour, new CD on sale at the back – all that was lacking for a highly satisfactory evening’s music making was an audience, really. Or most of it, anyway. A few more than a dozen people leaves wide open spaces even in the slightly dingy confines of the Be-Bop club.
A shame as he has a lot to offer – a style which draws on everyone you can think of (his list of influences on MySpace is the longest I’ve ever seen), a tight trio with excellent if slightly too tautly wound for my taste drummer (Ben Reynolds) and forceful bass playing (Chris Hill), and a thoughtfully probing solo style. “An approach to harmony and improvisation recalling John Taylor”, says John Fordham in the Guardian yesterday, and who am I to disagree, especially when Turville proffers a lovely version of Taylor’s Ambleside Days as his own tribute to the older player. His own compositions feature complex rhythmic patterns as starting points more than simply stated melodies, and can leave a set sounding as if it finishes up pretty much where it started. But there was plenty of interesting stuff along the way – and some striking variations in approach. Best of those were a Bill Evans style waltz in the first set and a brilliant, spine-tingling tango in memory of abducted persons in Argentina which was the highlight of the evening in the second. The music stands up well to repeated listening on the CD, too, though that tango’s not there. Hope they get to record another soon (this one is newly released but was made almost two years ago). Well worth catching – and in Cardiff on Tuesday at Dempsey’s if anyone is over that way.