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LISTEN TO HEAR

Artist: Howard Riley

Date of Release: 20/04/2018

Catalogue no: SLAMCD2106

Label: SLAM

Price: £9.99

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Howard Riley Solo Piano. Recorded 12 September 2017 at Porcupine Studios, London.
Howard has been a regular and productive recording artist on SLAM since the very early days of 1990. In fact his discography includes 16 SLAM CDs. In his solo recordings he has always shown a preference for the short tracks, which he has on occasion referred to as his ‘Short Stories’. This, his latest studio session, is very much of that character, with 17 tracks of around 3 and 4 minutes – plus, as is not uncommon, the inclusion of a jazz standard, in this case a couple of takes on ‘April in Paris’.

“Listening to the music on this CD is to hear, in an almost Dickensian flow of characterisation, much of the history not just of jazz but of 20th century music, plus some Romanticism, plus some Baroque, flowing past. Riley in his pomp is also a music historian…. Precious moments” Brian Morton.

 

Reviews

 

16/07/2018 Mark Klafter

Howard Riley is a veteran of the British free jazz scene, having teamed up with Barry Guy on bass and Tony Oxley on drums back in the 1970’s. Here he plays mostly original solo vignettes that stretch and challenge the ears and listening expectations of conventional jazz fans. No matter how quirky, angular or unexpected the note choices and overall flow may be, he is asking you to really listen to hear the inner logic and coherence of his varied and episodic explorations. He has a style that is more of a counter-style, moving themes and fragments around at will, changing directions playfully and erratically, keeping you guessing as to where he is going next. Music like this is more a mental exercise than an emotional catharsis, more head than heart. It is fascinating and interesting, abstract and fragmented, suggesting a different form of unity and flow. The two highlights are his interpretations of the classic “April in Paris.” With fleeting but recognizable references to the familiar melody, he sustains interest as he deconstructs and reconstructs the song, taking possession of the music and mood, opening its cracks and fissures in a Monkish mode. On “Three to Four” he employs a Cecil Taylor-like feel with some two-handed question and answer technique, a bit fractured, a bit rolling, yet connected by his ongoing investigations. “Still Returning” is dominated by right hand runs and ruminations with a lot of subtle stops and starts and discussions between his two hands, which require the listener to hear what he is striving for, asking you to go with its ups and downs and changes. Riley doesn’t ask you to hold onto anything for very long. “Movement” is just that, scampering, hands poking and prodding at each other with quick staccato runs, like two piano players that are in different rooms but hearing and responding to each other. The title track triumphs with plucked high notes, mid register left hand chords answering, then a bluesy right hand that is plaintive and melancholy, pleading gently, graced by a Spanish feel blowing through, leading to a nice finish.
Mark Klafter http://www.cadencejazzmagazine.com/membersonly/admin/assets/CadenceJulyIssue2018.pdf

 

14/06/2018 Mark Klafter

Howard Riley is a veteran of the British free jazz scene, having teamed up with Barry Guy on bass and Tony Oxley on drums back in the 1970’s. Here he plays mostly original solo vignettes that stretch and challenge the ears and listening expectations of conventional jazz fans. No matter how quirky, angular or unexpected the note choices and overall flow may be, he is asking you to really listen to hear the inner logic and coherence of his varied and episodic explorations. He has a style that is more of a counter-style, moving themes and fragments around at will, changing directions playfully and erratically, keeping you guessing as to where he is going next. Music like this is more a mental exercise than an emotional catharsis, more head than heart. It is fascinating and interesting, abstract and fragmented, suggesting a different form of unity and flow.
The two highlights are his interpretations of the classic “April in Paris.” With fleeting but recognizable references to the familiar melody, he sustains interest as he deconstructs and reconstructs the song, taking possession of the music and mood, opening its cracks and fissures in a Monkish mode. On “Three to Four” he employs a Cecil Taylor-like feel with some two-handed question and answer technique, a bit fractured, a bit rolling, yet connected by his ongoing investigations. “Still Returning” is dominated by right hand runs and ruminations with a lot of subtle stops and starts and discussions between his two hands, which require the listener to hear what he is striving for, asking you to go with its ups and downs and changes. Riley doesn’t ask you to hold onto anything for very long. “Movement” is just that, scampering, hands poking and prodding at each other with quick staccato runs, like two piano players that are in different rooms but hearing and responding to each other. The title track triumphs with plucked high notes, mid register left hand chords answering, then a bluesy right hand that is plaintive and melancholy, pleading gently, graced by a Spanish feel blowing through, leading to a nice finish. Mark Klafter Cadence July 2018.

 

01/05/2018 George W. Harris

Pianist Howard Riley goes solo on this graceful and melodic collection of originals and a handful of covers. While Riley’s touch is gentle and flowing, there is a dash of Monk-like playfulness and harmonics, evidenced by “Three to Four” and “You Said.” Riley is filled with clever ideas, evidenced by the two takes of the standard “April in Paris” being completely in variance from one another, as well as his different readings of his own “Eyes Wide Open” and “Equation.” The mood carried throughout is unassuming and unpretentious, as if the pianist were giving you a part of his creative process in a parlor. Casual and embracing. George Harris http://www.jazzweekly.com/2018/05/howard-riley-listen-to-hear/

 

01/05/2018 Vittorio Lo Conte

Il pianista Howard Rileyè un veterano del jazz inglese con ancora la voglia di dire qualcosa, di raccontare delle storie che intrattengono l’ascoltatore andando a ventaglio su quella che è la storia del piano solo. Sono tutte sue composizioni, tranne gli ultimi due brani, il famoso standard April in Paris di Vernon Duke. Si ascolta una musica pacata, che ricorda un poco Monk, Caring ad esempio, che non ricerca il virtuosismo ma semplicemente va alla ricerca di una storia, per lo più breve, in grado di attirare l’attenzione. Con l’età sembra trasmettere una specie di saggezza e nei momenti più liberi non va a cercare i cluster di un Cecil Taylor. Ci sono belle melodie, Three to Four, oppure Equation, temi che potrebbero essere stati scritti da un Mal Waldron, eseguiti con un tocco delicato ed una profonda empatia con lo strumento. Il lungo album scorre così, con raffinatezza, con brani presentati in due versioni, come appunto Equation in cui si può ascoltare un approccio che cambia da un momento all’altro allo stesso materiale, unèsecuzione che può sembrare più spigliata mentre l’altra è più meditativa. Fluency è un brano con uno swing implicito, fra i momenti più interessanti dell’album, poco più di due minuti in cui si racconta di tutto. Lo standard di Vernon Duke chiude l’album, da ascoltare per chi apprezza il piano solo. Vittorio Lo Conte http://www.musiczoom.it/?p=29064#.WsDDNXrwbct


Google translate
The pianist Howard Riley is a veteran of the English jazz with the desire to say something, to tell stories that entertain the listener, fanning the story of the solo piano. All his compositions, except the last two pieces, the famous April in Paris standard by Vernon Duke. You listen to quiet music, which reminds a little Monk, Caring for example, who does not seek virtuosity but simply goes in search of a story, mostly brief, able to attract attention. With age seems to transmit a kind of wisdom and in the most free time does not go to look for the clusters of a Cecil Taylor. There are beautiful melodies, Three to Four, or Equation, themes that may have been written by a Mal Waldron, performed with a delicate touch and a deep empathy with the instrument. The long album thus flows, with refinement, with songs presented in two versions, as Equation in which you can listen to an approach that changes from one moment to the next to the same material, an execution that may seem more self-confident while the other is more meditative. Fluency is a song with an implicit swing, among the most interesting moments of the album, just over two minutes in which everything is told. Vernon Duke's standard closes the album, to listen to those who appreciate the solo piano

 

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