Reviews of Dave Jones
18/12/2014 Ian Mann, The JazzMann website
Ian Mann enjoys a performance by the Dave Jones Quartet and takes a look at their new album 'Live at AMG 2014'.
"All of Jones’ recordings are highly recommended and “Live at AMG 2014” is a worthy addition to a very strong catalogue."
"... the quartet again turned in the kind of inspired performance that had prompted the release of the live CD."
"... this is an excellent band and tonight’s performance represented them at the top of their game."
Dave Jones Quartet, Dempsey’s, Cardiff 09/12/2014.
I’ve been a long term admirer of the playing and composing of Port Talbot based Dave Jones. He first came to my attention with the release of “Impetus”, a highly accomplished trio recording which paired him with the rhythm team of brothers Chris O’Connor (bass) and Mark O’Connor (drums).
Comprised entirely of originals the album served notice that Jones is a highly talented writer as well as a fine player and his next album “Journeys” found him expanding his instrumental palette with guest horn players Lee Goodall (reeds), Tomos Williams (trumpet) and Gareth Roberts (trombone) augmenting a new core trio featuring the young rhythm team of Ashley John Long (double bass) and Lloyd Haines (drums). The album also featured contributions by the Mavron String Quartet led by violinist Christiana Mavron.
“Resonance” (2012) saw Goodall joining Long and Haines to form a core quartet with Williams, Roberts and the Mavrons all contributing again alongside another guest in the shape of trumpeter Gethin Liddington. All three albums revealed Jones to be a writer of memorable, melodic and swinging themes, rooted in the jazz tradition, particularly the classic “Blue Note” sound, but with an agreeably contemporary edge. All were recorded to the highest technical standards by Goodall at his Oakfield Studios near Newport, Gwent. Such was the quality of these albums that they were picked up on by the London jazz media with positive reviews coming from Chris Parker and the late Jack Massarik among others.
“Resonance” also features guest appearances on some tracks by Irish drummer, composer and educator Kevin Lawlor, the Curator of Jazz at Wexford Arts Centre. Jones and Lawlor have collaborated frequently in recent years and Jones appears on Lawlor’s 2013 album “Exodus”.
Jones’ current quartet comprises of Goodall, Long and Lawlor and this line up has toured in both Wales and Ireland. In March 2014 a recording was made of the group’s performance at the Acoustic Meeting Ground (AMG) venue in Pontardawe. Initially this was only intended as a test recording for a new mixing desk but the group were so excited by the quality of their performances that it was decided to release the recordings as an official album, “Live at AMG 2014”. The material is sourced from the “Journeys” and “Resonance” albums with Jones describing the live versions of the tunes as being “longer, more improvised and more urgent” than the original studio recordings, some of which also included additional strings and brass.
Tonight’s performance by the quartet of Jones, Goodall, Long and Lawlor at Dempsey’s represented the official album launch of “Live at AMG”. Jones was kind enough to send me a copy of the album and I was therefore keen to offer my support to this event and also to hear him play his own material live on a “proper” acoustic grand piano for the first time. Whenever I’d seen him before at the Queens Head in Monmouth or the much missed Jazz In The Park festival in Torfaen he’d been forced to play a cruddy little electric and of course he sounded absolutely great at Dempsey’s. I did see him playing a grand piano at the 2014 Brecon Jazz Festival as part of the group Burum, a performance that I very much enjoyed, but seeing him performing his own tunes on a quality acoustic instrument was something special, particularly after waiting for so long to see it
On a filthy night in Cardiff with gale force winds and lashing rain the turnout at Dempsey’s was pleasingly substantial as the jazz fans of South Wales, supplemented as ever by some of the students from the nearby RWCMD, turned out to support their local heroes. According to Dave the band’s journey on the M4 wasn’t a lot of fun either but once the music started the weather was forgotten as the quartet again turned in the kind of inspired performance that had prompted the release of the live CD.
The Cardiff performance began with “The Metro” , introduced by Long whose bass figure proved to be the fulcrum for the piece as Goodall sketched the folk tinged melody on his distinctive curved soprano sax. Goodall took the first solo followed by Jones who clearly relished the opportunity to stretch out on the Dempsey’s piano. The instrument really is a prize asset, not many provincial jazz clubs have access to a grand piano but Dempsey’s has one resident on the premises which is carefully stored away when the venue transforms itself into a rock venue at weekends. It’s been played by many fine pianists from all corners of the globe in recent years and always sounds terrific. Long took the first of several excellent solos on double bass and the piece as a whole was propelled by Lawlor’s neat, crisp drumming. From the album “Resonance” the piece was inspired by the name of an Arts Centre in Abertillery.
Written as far back as 2004 “Welsh Rarebit” is obviously one of Jones’ favourite compositions and versions have appeared on both the “Impetus” and “Resonance” studio albums plus the new live recording which Jones described as “our accidental live album”. In my review of “Resonance” I spoke of this piece “bringing something of the Blue Note sound to South Wales” and that was exactly what we heard tonight with Goodall again leading off the solos on soprano followed by an expansive Jones solo again propelled by Lawlor’s crisp, no frills drumming. Long has developed into the kind of musician who makes bass solos interesting, he is a supremely imaginative player and a phenomenal technician. The previous week I’d seen him at the Queens Head in Monmouth as part of the Coltrane Dedication band co-led by saxophonists Lyndon Owen and Caractacus Downs. He turned in some brilliant solos then and did so again now combining boundless imagination with jaw dropping technical skill.
Also from “Resonance” the tune “Wexford Time” was inspired by Jones’ musical partnership with Lawlor, “we met on the internet!” the pianist wryly informed us. The tune was a celebration of this creative Celtic alliance with Goodall stating the theme on soprano before embarking on a series of vivid variations. Jones’ piano solo was positively jaunty, an affirmation of the unifying power of music.
“Three on Four” first appeared on the trio album “Impetus”. The current arrangement saw the piece opening with a delightful duet for piano and bowed bass. I’ve always loved Long’s arco playing and this captured the beautiful and lyrical side of his work with the bow. With the addition of Lawlor’s drums the piece moved into more conventional piano trio territory and for a moment I thought Goodall was going to sit this number out altogether but he eventually joined in on soprano, sharing the soloing duties with Jones and Long.
The first set ended with “Creative Petrol” , Jones’ nod to the inspirations behind the compositional process. Here Goodall took up the tenor for the first time on a piece whose head seemed to tip its hat in the direction of Miles Davis’ classic “So What” from “Kind Of Blue”. Meanwhile Jones’ tumbling, highly percussive piano solo suggested the influence of Thelonious Monk. I’ve been an admirer of Goodall’s playing since I first heard him at Brecon Jazz Festival in the late 1980s. A supremely versatile musician he plays tenor, alto and soprano saxophones plus flute, guitar and drums. He dug in on his tenor solo and was followed by Long at the bass and Lawlor with a series of drum breaks as he traded choruses with both Goodall and Jones with Long’s bass filling the anchor role. A good way to end a first half that featured exceptional playing from all four musicians.
Set two commenced with “5 to 3 on Friday”, originally written for “Resonance” and also the opening track on the new live album. Another tune with a “Blue Note” style hook this featured Goodall on soprano rather than the tenor he deploys on the recordings. It was equally effective though as he shared the soloing responsibilities with the excellent Long at the bass.
“Funky Thing” appears on both “Journeys” and the live album and in Jones’ words “does what it says on the tin”. This marked the first outing for Goodall on alto, his keening tone underpinned by a deliciously tight bass and drum groove supported by Jones’ equally funky left hand patterns. Goodall’s solo saw him taking flight above a backdrop of drums only as Jones and Long took a well earned rest. As well as admiring Goodall’s playing it also provided an opportunity for a fuller appreciation of Lawlor’s percussive skills. Jones’ funky and percussive piano solo maintained the energy levels and Long weighed in with some admirably muscular bass.
“Journeys” began with a passage of solo piano before Long came in to state the melody and to solo on beautifully modulated arco bass. Alastair McMurchie of Dempsey’s later informed me that Long is a classically trained double bassist who specialises in baroque music and is also in huge demand in the classical sphere. No wonder he’s so bloody good with the bow! Jazz represents a welcome change of scene for him and he’s also an excellent free jazz bassist who is more than capable of deploying extended techniques. Some of these crept in to his Coltrane Dedication performance where I remember one of his arco solos as being particularly stunning. “Journeys” also featured lengthy passages in piano trio mode plus a closing solo from Goodall on soprano but this was essentially a feature for the group’s remarkable bassist.
To round things off the quartet performed the only standard of the night, a quirky samba style take on “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” with solos from Jones on piano and Goodall on alto sax plus Long with some prodigiously agile bass plucking. Following a brief re-statement of the theme by Goodall the piece closed with a final drum feature from the highly competent Lawlor.
There’s something of a tendency for the London based jazz media to look down on “regional jazz musicians”. However any of these four would be in great demand if they were to move to the capital and, indeed, Jones did spend some time in the South East in the 1990s before moving back to Wales. Goodall has worked as a sideman with artists as diverse as Van Morrison and Keith Tippett and Long plays in a variety of orchestras and chamber ensembles in addition to his numerous jazz commitments. All four have valid reasons for remaining in Wales or Ireland but this in no way undermines their status as first class musicians, and in Jones they have a top class composer too.
Make no mistake this is an excellent band and tonight’s performance represented them at the top of their game. They were well received by a knowledgeable Dempsey’s crowd that included Burum trumpeter Tomos Williams.
All of Jones’ recordings are highly recommended and “Live At AMG 2014” is a worthy addition to a very strong catalogue.
01/11/2012 Mark Gilbert, Jazz Journal profile
The quotes below are taken from editor Mark Gilbert's profile of Dave Jones from the Nov 2012 issue of Jazz Journal:
"he imbues the familiar with freshness
by dint of sheer musicality and melodic gift"
"a set dominated by swinging post-Blue Note tunes that are
exemplars of musical logic, integrity and effective variation, aided in no small part by the similarly well sculpted work of saxophonist Lee Goodall"
"Dave Jones’s melodic and narrative gifts
can be heard in abundance on Resonance
21/09/2012 Trevor Hodgett, 'R2' magazine (Sept/Oct issue)
Resonance', his fourth album, features Welsh jazz pianist Dave Jones on a programme of thematically strong original compositions that are expertly played by core accompanists, Lee Goodall (saxes, flute), Ashley John Long (bass) and, variously, Lloyd Haines and Kevin Lawlor (drums), and assorted distinguished guests.
Jones is a gifted melodist. The sturdy melody of 'Afro Celtic' and the lovely, effervescent melody of 'Wexford Tune', for example, sound somewhat like traditional folk tunes, and the melody of 'The Metro' is positively entrancing. The musicianship also delights. On 'Welsh Rarebit' Tomos Williams's melancholy trumpet is beautiful and the track also features marvellously swinging piano from Jones himself, while Goodall's eloquent flute adorns 'Pushkin's Lament', a tenderly played, lyrical ballad.
The Mavron Quartet, a classical string quartet, are used to subtle effect on several tracks, their re-entry towards the end of 'The Metro' being utterly disarming. The final track, 'Ubermog', is weirdly anomalous, but refreshingly so, with the quartet sounding like a totally different band, for this is in rock or even prog rock territory with Jones pumping out funky Hammomd organ licks and Goodall - otherwise a saxophonist and flautist - rocking out on heavily distorted electric guitar.
30/07/2012 Duncan Heining, Jazz UK
Dave Jones' Quartet's 'Resonance' reveals musical growth, with several cuts utilising the Mavron String Quartet to first-rate effect and Jones' use of an expanded front line, for example on 'Pushkin's Lament', showing some real skill. Jones is developing into a very interesting composer.
29/07/2012 Phil Johnson, The Independent on Sunday
"There's a lightly stepping, cinematic charm to pianist Jones's outstanding compositions here, especially those featuring the Mavron String Quartet.
The catchy opener, "The Metro", could be the score to a stylish French thriller, while "5 to 3 on Friday" suggests 1960s social realism".
N.B. See the IoS 29/07/2012 for the full review.
26/07/2012 Chris Parker (London Jazz blogspot)
Dave Jones Quartet - Resonance (DJT005)
His “Journeys” trio now augmented by multi-instrumentalist Lee Goodall, Dave Jones has produced a characteristically attractive, wholly accessible album in Resonance, the music on it, as is usual with the Port Talbot pianist/composer, made up of relatively straightforward, often riff-based original material, played with panache and pep by a band completed by regulars Ashley John Long (bass) and Lloyd Haines (drums), the latter replaced on three tracks by Kevin Lawler.
The strings of the Mavron Quartet and – on other pieces – a brass section join Jones’s quartet on three tracks each, and bring welcome textural variety to the mix, but the album’s immediacy and power are derived from the uncomplicated directness of the compositions, which call to mind both Spirit Level in their heyday and (occasionally) McCoy Tyner’s immediately post-Coltrane output.
Goodall fires off cogent solos on both soprano and tenor, and his one-track contributions on flute and guitar are also telling, the latter in particular bringing the album to a rousing climax by perfectly complementing Jones’s feisty Hammond organ. Jones communicates most effectively in live performances, but this unpretentiously enjoyable album is the next best thing.
20/07/2012 Robert Shore, Jazzwise magazine Aug 2012
"As a pianist, he swings with the panache of McCoy Tyner on the likes of 'Welsh Rarebit', but allows space for equally characterful contributions from trumpet, trombone and flugelhorn on the same tune and 'Pushkin's Lament' (Robert Shore).
N.B. See Jazzwise Aug 2012 for the full review.
30/06/2012 Ian Mann
The following press quotes are from Ian Mann's very recent review of the new 'Resonance' album by the Dave Jones Quartet:
"… a carefully crafted recording that features Jones’ melodic, intelligent writing and arrangements plus some excellent playing from all the members of the ensemble. It’s a worthy addition to an increasingly impressive catalogue and, like its predecessors, deserves to be widely appreciated by the national jazz audience”
“The new album kicks off with “The Metro” … It’s a beguiling start to the album and a good demonstration of Jones’ superior arranging skills”.
"There's a simple joyousness about this piece that instantly charms the listener" (Afro Celtic)
“… a first rate composer capable of coming up with inventive and memorable themes” (Ian Mann, 30/06/2012).
N.B. Please see the cds section here for Ian Mann's full review of 'Resonance' from the 'Jazzmann' website.
01/10/2011 Simon Spillett, saxophonist
"... I was fortunate to work with the trio of pianist Dave Jones, a musician of formidable gifts ..." (Simon Spillett, Jazz UK Oct/Nov 2011).
22/10/2010 Tony Hall, 'Jazzwise'
"...proves that Welsh jazz musicians can certainly match the soulfullness of their legendary singers" ... "His tunes are really good, especially 'Nathan's' and the gorgeous title song which features one of the warmest-sounding string quartets you could wish to hear" ... "...excellent edgy tenor from the impressive Lee Goodall" ... "... the whole CD is immensely enjoyable. More please"
N.B. See Tony Hall's full length review of 'Journeys' in the November 2010 issue of 'Jazzwise' magazine.
08/10/2010 Peter Vacher, Jazz UK
'Journeys' by the Dave Jones Trio (DJT) underscores the richness of present-day Welsh jazz, Jones the piano working with strings and horns in an exhilarating assembly of originals. Plenty of action here, with trumpeter Tomos Williams, saxophonist Lee Goodall and trombonist Gareth Roberts adding muscle.
29/09/2010 Chris Parker, 'The Vortex' website
When Welsh pianist Dave Jones brought his trio (bassist Ashley John Long, drummer Lloyd Haines) to the Vortex in 2009, they closed their set with Wayne Shorter's 'Black Nile' (from the saxophonist's 1964 album Night Dreamer); that track (the only non-original on this, Jones's third recording) begins proceedings here, and it serves as a useful marker for what follows.
Inspired by a visit to Washington to perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, compositions such as the self-explanatory 'Hey DC' (an upbeat, celebratory, gospelly tune) and 'Funky Thing' (on which saxophonist Lee Goodall makes one of his four contributions) emulate the trio's previous album, Impetus, courtesy of their instantly memorable, punchy accessibility (Tim Richards's Spirit Level cover similar musical territory), but with the addition of trumpeter Tomos Williams and trombonist Gareth Williams on a couple of tracks and strings (the Mavron Quartet) on the album's title-track, the band's sound palette has been considerably extended.
To the relatively straightforward vigorous assurance and tasteful funkiness of previous outings, an ability to handle various textures and moods has been added, most tellingly on the lyrical, elegant 'Journeys', which draws an almost rhapsodic solo from its composer, skilfully set against a basic but effective string arrangement. Lively, powerful but polished music from an inventive composer/leader fronting a robust, musicianly band.
11/09/2010 Keith Ames, 'The Musician: Journal of the M.U.'
Port Talbot's jazz keyboard wizard leads his group through eight cuts of instrumental improvisation, inspired by his 2009 performance at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The core performers, Dave (piano), Ashley John Long (bass) and Lloyd Haines (drums), establish the principal, cool style during Shorter's 'Black Nile'. They are then joined by Lee Goodall (sax), Tomos Williams (trumpet), and Gareth Roberts (trombone), who subtly add a wider dimension to 'Nathan's Bar' and 'Barry Island' without changing the overall feel and direction. Cerebral jazz from a growing master.
20/08/2010 Ian Mann, 'The Jazzmann' website
"This trio performance has something of the joyousness of early Keith Jarrett with Jones’s attractive melody tapping into Jarrett’s jazz meets country meets gospel vibe. Lovely."
13/08/2010 Jack Massarik, 'London Evening Standard'
Though ordinary by name, Port Talbot's Dave Jones is an extraordinary pianist. He swings with a warmth, grace and vitality that recalls Horace Silver and McCoy Tyner. He also writes soulful originals and scores them skilfully for horns (Lee Goodall's tenor-sax being a notable bonus) and occasional strings. It's not surprising that guitarist Jim Mullen and flugel-hornist Nick Hill figured in his London phase years ago. He's now 46 and the promise of his 1995 debut album, Have You Met Mr Jones, is richly fulfilled by this mature release, available from jazzcds.co.uk. Jones the Piano definitely merits wider attention.
20/07/2009 Chris Parker, Live Review at the Vortex
The Dave Jones Trio at the Vortex, Mon 20 July 2009:
If dynamic variation and subtle felicities of touch and texture are the primary qualities conjured up by 'piano trio', however, the Dave Jones Trio (leader/composer on piano, bassist Ashley John-Long, drummer Lloyd Haines), launching their CD Impetus (see CD Reviews), fit that definition.Their material (all by Jones, except the tumultuous closer, Wayne Shorter's 'Black Nile', from 1964's Night Dreamer) ranged easily between the tastefully funky ('The Leopard'), the intensely melodic ('Stimulus') and the immediately memorable ('Welsh Rarebit'), but whatever they played, the trio addressed it in a thoroughly musicianly, considered manner, Jones displaying all the qualities that led to fellow pianist John Pearce commenting, on Jones's debut album, Have You Met Mr. Jones? (Parrot, 1996), '[He] has a fine technique, rhythmic assurance and a straight-ahead style which makes him a very accomplished pianist indeed.' Amen to that.
01/06/2009 Peter Vacher, Jazz UK
Another pianist going the own-composition route is Welshman Dave Jones whose trio album 'Impetus' (DJT) is funky at first, bass and drums going for a dance groove on 'The Leopard', ahead of the more thoughtful 'Stimulus'. 'Welsh Rarebit' is a swinger, underlining the width of Jones's compositional range and the virtues of his incisive keyboard touch.
25/01/2009 Phil Johnson, The Independent
The great piano trio resurgence continues in soul-jazz and lyrical soft-bop from south Wales. On the marvelously catchy opener, "The Leopard", Jones' piano style recalls Ramsey Lewis for easy sparkle and lilt, and Herbie Hancock for chordal invention. But over the course of the album, it's his skills as a writer rather than generic acuity that impress the most, along with the excellent contributions of twins Chris (double bass) and Marc (drums) O'Connor.
12/12/2008 Chris Parker, The Vortex website
Pianist Dave Jones's debut album, Have you met Mr.Jones? (Parrot, 1996) covered work by such composers as Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver, Joe Henderson, and Hank Mobley, plus the odd standard and one original; this unlike its predecessor an all-acoustic-affair and with every track written by Jones himself except 'Postscript', a reprise of the aforementioned original from HYMMJ? 'Impetus' nevertheless covers similar stylistic ground: polished, lively post-bop with attractive, airy (even hummable), tunes.
Energetically but tastefully supported by the brothers O'Connor (bassist Chris and drummer Marc), Jones is a vigorous but elegant pianist, never flashy or glib, but none the less fluent and inventive for that; his ballads are suitably lyrical, his tone glowing and burnished, and his more up-tempo material draws suitably powerful solos from him. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable album from a sensitive but vibrant band.
01/03/1997 John Eyles, 'The Jazz Rag' magazine
"A terrific debut". "Dave Jones is a fluent, fluid and imaginative player, at any tempo". (John Eyles, Jazz Rag, 1997) - these quotes are from a review of the 1996 debut album 'Have you met Mr.Jones?' by the Dave Jones Trio.
01/09/1996 Brian Priestley, 'Musician' magazine
"... this is an excellent debut" (Brian Priestley, 'Musician' magazine, 1996) - this quote is from a review of the 1996 debut album 'Have you met Mr.Jones?' by the Dave Jones Trio.
01/12/1995 Jim Mullen, guitarist
"... a fine set which announces a great new keyboard talent who promises even greater things to come. Check it out!" (from the CD inlay notes for the 1996 debut album 'Have you met Mr.Jones?' by the Dave Jones Trio.
01/12/1995 John Pearce, pianist
"It's been my good fortune to hear Dave Jones several times in live situations, and this CD is a perfect demonstration of his ability to play with energy and inventiveness" (from the CD inlay notes for the 1996 debut album 'Have you met Mr.Jones? by the Dave Jones Trio'.
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