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John Turville - Head First Rating: 4 out of 5 The writing by Turville and others is richly varied, embracing a variety of jazz styles and borrowing judiciously from other musical genres. The playing, from an all star cast is excellent throughout.

John Turville

“Head First”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4734)

Pianist and composer John Turville is among the great unsung heroes of the British jazz scene. Also an acclaimed educator he is equally proficient on acoustic piano and electric keyboards and has been a prolific sideman in a variety of jazz contexts. Among those with whom he has recorded are bassists Ben Bastin, Matt Ridley and Yuriy Galkin, saxophonists Tim Garland, Frank Griffith, Alex Merritt, Alan Barnes and Tony Kofi, drummer Asaf Sirkis, guitarist Ant Law and vocalists Brigitte Beraha, Sarah Gillespie and Sylwia Bialas. He has also been part of the co-operative sextet Solstice.

As a leader Turville has released two excellent albums in the conventional piano trio format. “Midas” (2010) and “Conception (2012) both appeared on the F-ire Presents imprint and both featured Turville alongside the rhythm team of Chris Hill (bass) and Ben Reynolds (drums). Both albums are reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann as is a 2010 live performance by the trio at The Hive in Shrewsbury.

Turville has also recorded in a duo format with Solstice vocalist and lyricist Brigitte Beraha, the pair releasing the intimate and often beautiful album “Red Skies” in 2013. Again this recording is reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann, as is a captivating live performance by the pair at The Hive in 2016, when they were joined by guest saxophonist George Crowley,  the latter filling the role played on the album by the late, great Bobby Wellins.

For his latest outing as a leader Turville has rung the changes and expanded his group to a quintet. His new rhythm team features the experienced bassist Dave Whitford and the UK’s most in demand contemporary jazz drummer, James Maddren. The peerless Julian Arguelles appears on tenor and soprano saxophones and the quintet is completed by trumpeter Robbie Robson, perhaps the least known of the five. Nevertheless Turville and the trumpeter go back a long way, Turville having played exclusively on Fender Rhodes on the eponymous 2010 album by Robson’s Miles Davis inspired quartet Dog Soup.

The title “Head First” is an oblique nod to one of Turville’s piano heroes, the great American pianist and composer Fred Hirsch. But the album also pays homage to some of Turville’s other key inspirations, notably the late, great British pianist and composer John Taylor (1942 - 2015),  Turville’s mentor, and to whom the album is dedicated.

The genesis of the quintet stems from the Jazz Piano Summit concert of 2015, which paid tribute to Taylor and his musical legacy. It was there that Turville presented his own Taylor tribute “ A Perfect Foil”, which involved a collaboration with Arguelles, thus sowing the seed for this quintet project.
“ A Perfect Foil” graces the new recording alongside seven other Turville originals. Arguelles contributes his own composition “A Month In Tunisia” while outside material comes from fellow pianist/composers Diego Schissi, Toninho Horta and Michel Petrucciani.

Besides the influence of the musicians mentioned above Turville has also cited Bill Evans as a major source of inspiration in addition to classical composers such as John Ireland, Federico Mompou, Franz Liszt and the French Romantics. The music on “Head First” also draws inspiration from folk and world music with many of Turville’s compositions being inspired by places and experiences. Not everything is played by the full quintet, examples of duo, trio and quartet performances occur throughout the album.

The album commences with the attention grabbing “Fall Out”, which was originally written by Turville for a quartet but was subsequently arranged for big band. Thanks to the horn fanfares of Robson and Arguelles the quintet version of the tune still possesses an impressively big sound with the two horn men dovetailing neatly before embarking on their individual solos. Robson goes first, combining warmth with brassiness in a manner that has been compared to the late Kenny Wheeler. Next we hear from Turville himself who solos with his usual expansive fluency, with Arguelles subsequently displaying similar qualities on tenor. The rhythm section is busy and inventive throughout as Whitford and Maddren keep things moving and there is also something of a feature for the drummer.

“Almagro Nights” finds Turville returning to the trio format on a piece inspired by his love of Argentinian music - Turville’s discography includes recordings by the London Tango Orchestra and El Ultimo Tango. However the debt isn’t made too obvious as Turville stretches out imaginatively above Whitford’s grounding double bass and Maddren’s brisk, and consistently inventive, drumming.

“Seahorses” was inspired by a sea trip off the coast of Seahouses in Northumberland, doubtless to see the wonderful wildlife of the Farne Islands. It’s a suitably stormy piece, a concentrated burst of improvisation featuring squalling horns, turbulent piano and roiling rhythms, that eventually resolves itself as Turville and his colleagues finally navigate their way back to shore.

“Interval Music” represents ‘the calm after the storm’ and is an elegant lyrical piano and soprano sax duet that hints at both folk and classical music forms while recalling Arguelles’ celebrated duo with the late John Taylor.

It’s therefore perhaps appropriate that “A Perfect Foil”, Turville’s tribute to Taylor follows. There’s something of Taylor’s style in the writing and with Arguelles remaining on soprano I’m reminded of Taylor’s quartet with Arguelles, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Martin France that recorded the Kurt Vonnegut inspired album “Requiem For A Dreamer”, released in 2011. There’s an airy, breezy lyricism here in the gently darting solos of Turville and Arguelles, the latter really taking flight on the straight horn, his swooping arabesques underscored by another exceptional drumming performance from Maddren that sees him moving from brushes to sticks.

The title track, Turville’s tip of the hat to Fred Hirsch, sees a return to the trio format and finds Whitford coming to the fore with a virtuoso double bass solo of great dexterity and resonance. Turville himself positively sparkles as he stretches out above, and in dialogue with, Maddren’s jaunty samba inspired rhythms.

“Ennerdale” is inspired by the landscape of Lake District and espouses a pastoral sound featuring the warmly rounded tones of Robson’s trumpet and Turville’s own piano lyricism, his solo including a quote from Taylor’s composition “Ambleside”, another piece inspired by the beauty of this part of the world. Robson also features as a soloist, as does Arguelles who is gently incisive on tenor.

“Cancion 4” by the Buenos Aires born pianist, composer and bandleader Diego Schissi is performed as a piano and trumpet duet, the melancholy majesty of Robson’s playing again evoking comparisons with that of Kenny Wheeler. Turville again displays a flowing lyricism at the piano, on what is a beautiful duo performance from start to finish.

By way of contrast the mood is one of relaxed joyousness on a trio performance of Brazilian pianist Toninho Horta’s composition “Francisca” which features Turville’s lightness of touch at the piano allied to Maddren’s brightly detailed drumming. Whitford also impresses with another supremely dexterous bass solo.

Arguelles’  bustling “A Month In Tunisia” emerges from a freely structured intro to embrace something of the quirkiness that has become something of an Arguelles trademark over the years. Maddren’s exotic rhythms underpin an uncharacteristically percussive piano solo from Turville and joyously fluent flights of fancy from both Robson and Arguelles.

“Cyclic Chorale” is the last of Turville’s originals, a trio piece loosely inspired by Liszt and featuring the tightly focussed interplay of Turville, Whitford and Maddren, the mood varying from the tentative to the intense.

The album concludes with a swinging quintet arrangement of Michel Petrucciani’s “Beautiful But Why”, introduced by the two horns working in unison but with the first solo going to the powerfully plucked bass of Whitford. This is followed by a concise but eloquent statement from Arguelles on tenor, followed by slightly longer solos from Turville and Robson who both impress with their urgency and cogency. Maddren and Whitford also feature strongly in a lively series of group exchanges prior to a surprising freely structured outro.

It’s been a long wait for this latest album under Turville’s own name but on this evidence it has been well worth it. The writing by Turville and others is richly varied, embracing a variety of jazz styles and borrowing judiciously from other musical genres. The playing, from an all star ensemble is excellent throughout and the devolution of the quintet into smaller units at certain junctures along the way also works well.

The album was recorded at Artesuono Studio in Italy by engineer Stefano Amerio and the sound is excellent throughout. Turville clearly regards Artesuono as something of a musical and spiritual home and comments;
“As a leader there comes increased artistic freedom, so I love thinking on my feet and experimenting. Over two days of recording my band was in total alignment with the vibe and energy that I was looking for”.

The quintet is currently on tour in the UK with the remaining dates as follows;

1 March - The Fleece, Colchester
2 March - Workshop, Royal Academy of Music, London
4 March - Wells Cathedral, Cedars Hall
5 March - St Ives Jazz Club (Great Western Hotel)
6 March - Workshop and Concert, Purcell School, Bushey
7 March - Nottingham Jazzsteps, Bonington Theatre, Arnold
8 March - Workshop, Leeds College of Music
8 March - Sheffield Jazz, Crookes Social Club
9 March - The Verdict, Brighton

For further information please visit;
http://www.johnturville.com

Head First

John Turville

Friday, March 01, 2019

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

Head First

The writing by Turville and others is richly varied, embracing a variety of jazz styles and borrowing judiciously from other musical genres. The playing, from an all star cast is excellent throughout.

John Turville

“Head First”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4734)

Pianist and composer John Turville is among the great unsung heroes of the British jazz scene. Also an acclaimed educator he is equally proficient on acoustic piano and electric keyboards and has been a prolific sideman in a variety of jazz contexts. Among those with whom he has recorded are bassists Ben Bastin, Matt Ridley and Yuriy Galkin, saxophonists Tim Garland, Frank Griffith, Alex Merritt, Alan Barnes and Tony Kofi, drummer Asaf Sirkis, guitarist Ant Law and vocalists Brigitte Beraha, Sarah Gillespie and Sylwia Bialas. He has also been part of the co-operative sextet Solstice.

As a leader Turville has released two excellent albums in the conventional piano trio format. “Midas” (2010) and “Conception (2012) both appeared on the F-ire Presents imprint and both featured Turville alongside the rhythm team of Chris Hill (bass) and Ben Reynolds (drums). Both albums are reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann as is a 2010 live performance by the trio at The Hive in Shrewsbury.

Turville has also recorded in a duo format with Solstice vocalist and lyricist Brigitte Beraha, the pair releasing the intimate and often beautiful album “Red Skies” in 2013. Again this recording is reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann, as is a captivating live performance by the pair at The Hive in 2016, when they were joined by guest saxophonist George Crowley,  the latter filling the role played on the album by the late, great Bobby Wellins.

For his latest outing as a leader Turville has rung the changes and expanded his group to a quintet. His new rhythm team features the experienced bassist Dave Whitford and the UK’s most in demand contemporary jazz drummer, James Maddren. The peerless Julian Arguelles appears on tenor and soprano saxophones and the quintet is completed by trumpeter Robbie Robson, perhaps the least known of the five. Nevertheless Turville and the trumpeter go back a long way, Turville having played exclusively on Fender Rhodes on the eponymous 2010 album by Robson’s Miles Davis inspired quartet Dog Soup.

The title “Head First” is an oblique nod to one of Turville’s piano heroes, the great American pianist and composer Fred Hirsch. But the album also pays homage to some of Turville’s other key inspirations, notably the late, great British pianist and composer John Taylor (1942 - 2015),  Turville’s mentor, and to whom the album is dedicated.

The genesis of the quintet stems from the Jazz Piano Summit concert of 2015, which paid tribute to Taylor and his musical legacy. It was there that Turville presented his own Taylor tribute “ A Perfect Foil”, which involved a collaboration with Arguelles, thus sowing the seed for this quintet project.
“ A Perfect Foil” graces the new recording alongside seven other Turville originals. Arguelles contributes his own composition “A Month In Tunisia” while outside material comes from fellow pianist/composers Diego Schissi, Toninho Horta and Michel Petrucciani.

Besides the influence of the musicians mentioned above Turville has also cited Bill Evans as a major source of inspiration in addition to classical composers such as John Ireland, Federico Mompou, Franz Liszt and the French Romantics. The music on “Head First” also draws inspiration from folk and world music with many of Turville’s compositions being inspired by places and experiences. Not everything is played by the full quintet, examples of duo, trio and quartet performances occur throughout the album.

The album commences with the attention grabbing “Fall Out”, which was originally written by Turville for a quartet but was subsequently arranged for big band. Thanks to the horn fanfares of Robson and Arguelles the quintet version of the tune still possesses an impressively big sound with the two horn men dovetailing neatly before embarking on their individual solos. Robson goes first, combining warmth with brassiness in a manner that has been compared to the late Kenny Wheeler. Next we hear from Turville himself who solos with his usual expansive fluency, with Arguelles subsequently displaying similar qualities on tenor. The rhythm section is busy and inventive throughout as Whitford and Maddren keep things moving and there is also something of a feature for the drummer.

“Almagro Nights” finds Turville returning to the trio format on a piece inspired by his love of Argentinian music - Turville’s discography includes recordings by the London Tango Orchestra and El Ultimo Tango. However the debt isn’t made too obvious as Turville stretches out imaginatively above Whitford’s grounding double bass and Maddren’s brisk, and consistently inventive, drumming.

“Seahorses” was inspired by a sea trip off the coast of Seahouses in Northumberland, doubtless to see the wonderful wildlife of the Farne Islands. It’s a suitably stormy piece, a concentrated burst of improvisation featuring squalling horns, turbulent piano and roiling rhythms, that eventually resolves itself as Turville and his colleagues finally navigate their way back to shore.

“Interval Music” represents ‘the calm after the storm’ and is an elegant lyrical piano and soprano sax duet that hints at both folk and classical music forms while recalling Arguelles’ celebrated duo with the late John Taylor.

It’s therefore perhaps appropriate that “A Perfect Foil”, Turville’s tribute to Taylor follows. There’s something of Taylor’s style in the writing and with Arguelles remaining on soprano I’m reminded of Taylor’s quartet with Arguelles, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Martin France that recorded the Kurt Vonnegut inspired album “Requiem For A Dreamer”, released in 2011. There’s an airy, breezy lyricism here in the gently darting solos of Turville and Arguelles, the latter really taking flight on the straight horn, his swooping arabesques underscored by another exceptional drumming performance from Maddren that sees him moving from brushes to sticks.

The title track, Turville’s tip of the hat to Fred Hirsch, sees a return to the trio format and finds Whitford coming to the fore with a virtuoso double bass solo of great dexterity and resonance. Turville himself positively sparkles as he stretches out above, and in dialogue with, Maddren’s jaunty samba inspired rhythms.

“Ennerdale” is inspired by the landscape of Lake District and espouses a pastoral sound featuring the warmly rounded tones of Robson’s trumpet and Turville’s own piano lyricism, his solo including a quote from Taylor’s composition “Ambleside”, another piece inspired by the beauty of this part of the world. Robson also features as a soloist, as does Arguelles who is gently incisive on tenor.

“Cancion 4” by the Buenos Aires born pianist, composer and bandleader Diego Schissi is performed as a piano and trumpet duet, the melancholy majesty of Robson’s playing again evoking comparisons with that of Kenny Wheeler. Turville again displays a flowing lyricism at the piano, on what is a beautiful duo performance from start to finish.

By way of contrast the mood is one of relaxed joyousness on a trio performance of Brazilian pianist Toninho Horta’s composition “Francisca” which features Turville’s lightness of touch at the piano allied to Maddren’s brightly detailed drumming. Whitford also impresses with another supremely dexterous bass solo.

Arguelles’  bustling “A Month In Tunisia” emerges from a freely structured intro to embrace something of the quirkiness that has become something of an Arguelles trademark over the years. Maddren’s exotic rhythms underpin an uncharacteristically percussive piano solo from Turville and joyously fluent flights of fancy from both Robson and Arguelles.

“Cyclic Chorale” is the last of Turville’s originals, a trio piece loosely inspired by Liszt and featuring the tightly focussed interplay of Turville, Whitford and Maddren, the mood varying from the tentative to the intense.

The album concludes with a swinging quintet arrangement of Michel Petrucciani’s “Beautiful But Why”, introduced by the two horns working in unison but with the first solo going to the powerfully plucked bass of Whitford. This is followed by a concise but eloquent statement from Arguelles on tenor, followed by slightly longer solos from Turville and Robson who both impress with their urgency and cogency. Maddren and Whitford also feature strongly in a lively series of group exchanges prior to a surprising freely structured outro.

It’s been a long wait for this latest album under Turville’s own name but on this evidence it has been well worth it. The writing by Turville and others is richly varied, embracing a variety of jazz styles and borrowing judiciously from other musical genres. The playing, from an all star ensemble is excellent throughout and the devolution of the quintet into smaller units at certain junctures along the way also works well.

The album was recorded at Artesuono Studio in Italy by engineer Stefano Amerio and the sound is excellent throughout. Turville clearly regards Artesuono as something of a musical and spiritual home and comments;
“As a leader there comes increased artistic freedom, so I love thinking on my feet and experimenting. Over two days of recording my band was in total alignment with the vibe and energy that I was looking for”.

The quintet is currently on tour in the UK with the remaining dates as follows;

1 March - The Fleece, Colchester
2 March - Workshop, Royal Academy of Music, London
4 March - Wells Cathedral, Cedars Hall
5 March - St Ives Jazz Club (Great Western Hotel)
6 March - Workshop and Concert, Purcell School, Bushey
7 March - Nottingham Jazzsteps, Bonington Theatre, Arnold
8 March - Workshop, Leeds College of Music
8 March - Sheffield Jazz, Crookes Social Club
9 March - The Verdict, Brighton

For further information please visit;
http://www.johnturville.com


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