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Dave Lyttle’s “Dark Tales”, Future Inns, Cabot Circus, Oct 14th

October 16, 2010

I knew within five seconds of this one starting that Dave Lyttle was going to become one of my favourite drummers. Hadn’t heard of him before, but the Irishman keeps heavy company (here with Michael Janisch on bass, the prodigous Robert Mitchell on piano and impressive young US tenor and soprano exponent Tim Warfield.)

Ian Mann has described the previous night of this little tour, across the Severn at Dempsey’s in Cardiff, so no need to repeat those details – save to say that Lyttle’s compositions impressed as well.

But not as much as the drumming. Words for describing rhythm players are hard to come by, but he has that wonderful, supple, loose feel which few can maintain – sounding as if he is continually teetering on the edge of abandoning the beat entirely but never quite falling off it. The energising effect of that tension is remarkable. Add a superb, creative commentary on what everyone else is doing, and you have a fine drummer indeed. For me, there’s a quality about this kind of drumming which, while not drawing attention to itself nevertheless holds the attention all the while. It is in some ways indefinable, but it is clear when someone has it – Elvin had it, as did Charles Moffatt, and so does Brian Blade. Nearer home, authenticated owners include Brian Spring and Gene Calderazzo. One would turn out just to hear them but they need to be in a group which can cope with such strong contributions from the drum chair. This one was.

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