Review: John Turville Trio - Midas
|Artist:||John Turville Trio|
|Date of Release:||2009|
|Cat. No.:||F-IRE CD 29|
|Country of Release:||UK|
|Sub-Genre/s:||Contemporary, Post-bop, Hard Bop|
|Date of Review:||2011/04/20|
The Midas Touch
The John Turville Trio's debut album Midas was released in late 2009 on the F-IRE label in their F-IRE presents series. It has recently been nominated for Album Of The Year 2010 in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards. The trio was formed in 2003.
Turville should need little or no introduction here. One of the three or four finest pianists of his generation, John Turville is not only one of the two most sensitive ones with a rare beauty of touch but probably the most versatile as well. Whether it's jazz, from swing to post-bop and anything in between, tango (of which he is also a highly accomplished composer), experimental/fusion, folk, or for that matter any other 'genre,' Turville handles it all with equal finesse. His credits read almost like a 'who's who' of the current British scene and include Gilad Atzmon, Tim Garland, Tim Whitehead, El Ultimo Tango, Transtango, the Koby Israelite Band, Guillermo Rozenthuler & Rioplatenses, Dog Soup and more. Turville also currently directs the E17 big band.
The trio is completed by bassist Chris Hill, well established in both the jazz and popular music scene with credits including Jamie Cullum, Gilad Atzmon, the Mingus Big Band, Joe Stilgoe, Martin Taylor, Stacey Kent and Dylan Howe, as well as Damon Albarn and Katie Melua, and highly creative drummer Ben Reynolds, whose credits include Jacqui Dankworth, Stan Sulzmann, Mark Lockheart, Clare Teal, Joe Stilgoe, FRAUD, and The Sam Crockatt Quartet. Special guest vocalist is the highly gifted Brigitte Beraha who lends her exquisite vocals to three tracks, including the title track.
Of the ten tracks on Midas, seven are Turville originals. The latter reveal Turville as a mature, solid composer who is as versatile as a composer as he is as a pianist. The other three tracks are classics including The Duke's Solitude and 1960s singer-songwriter Nick Drake's Fruit Tree.
While clearly showing influences such as John Taylor, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett (the better, more interesting bits of Jarrett, anyway) in his playing here on Midas, Turville never allows these to overwhelm him and firmly shows that he is very much his own man. And while the cover might be something that could have come from the ECM label, the musical content and playing are clearly something superior to the standard ECM 'house style,' showing greater depth and gravitas.
Midas is aptly titled, showing as it does John Turville's Midas touch with this masterful album. At once lyrical and muscular, Midas is suffused with Turville's characteristic ebb and flow of tempos and dynamics as well as his great adventurousness with harmony, both in his fluid improvs and the compositions. His rhythm section keeps up beautifully, and the trio reveals itself as as empathic as one could hope to find. As piano trio albums go, few contemporary albums match this, and Midas certainly has already earned itself a place in my collection of favourites in this category.
From the opening First Flight and its punchy urgency, via the dreamy title track to the closer, the soulful, bluesy Solitude, Midas presents as much variety as could be cohesively handled on one album. The vocals of Brigitte Beraha on three of the tracks complement the rest of the album most exquisitely and delightfully. On the title track, her wispy wordless vocal is breathtaking and highly reminiscent of Norma Winstone. The subtle delicacy of Ms. Beraha's vocals also shine on Nick Drake's Fruit Tree and the moving closer, Ellington's Solitude.
Throughout, Turville delivers a very satisfying amount of superb improvs, metamorphosing his way through the material with breathtaking finesse. His co-conspirators are also given space to shine, and particularly bassist Hill delivers some fine solos.
A brilliantly consistent album that is also consistently brilliant, it would be worse than futile to attempt to pick any single favourite track on Midas. This music is as inspired as it is inspiring, delivering both elegant beauty as well as some serious punch.
The John Turville Trio's Midas should be considered essential in any contemporary jazz collection, and particularly so in any piano trio collection. A definite must-have!
1. First Flight - 5:18
John Turville - piano
Midas can be purchased
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