John Turville

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Reviews of John Turville


09/01/2010 Ian Mann

The latest release on the F-ire presents imprint, this is a highly impressive statement from the versatile young pianist John Turville. The classically trained Turville is comfortable in a range of contexts ranging from playing tango with Guilermo Rozenthuler, electric era Miles stylings with the Loop Collective band Dog Soup (Turville plays Rhodes exclusively here) and depping for Gwilym Simcock in Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Trio. He has also worked with Tim Whitehead, one of his early champions, with Koby Israelite and with numerous other tango groups. Turville is also a skilled big band arranger and currently writes and directs for the E17 Big Band.

However it is in the trio format that pianists like to be judged and on the evidence of this recording Turville emerges as a major new talent to be rated up there alongside other young piano stars such as Simcock and Kit Downes. “Midas” is an impressively wide ranging album that teams Turville with two other highly talented exponents of their respective instruments in the form of bassist Chris Hill and drummer Ben Reynolds.

Hill has worked extensively in both the jazz and pop fields his credits including work with the Mingus Big Band, Joe Stilgoe, Martin Taylor, Gilad Atzmon, Stacey Kent, Katie Melua and Damon Albarn. I know his playing best from his stint in drummer Dylan Howe’s quintet. Reynolds is similarly versatile having worked with Joe Stilgoe, Jacqui Dankworth, Stan Sulzmann and Mark Lockheart plus the more rock orientated bands Compassionate Dictatorship, led by guitarist Jez Franks, and the incendiary and iconoclastic Fraud where he forms part of a formidable two drum attack with Tim Giles.

“Midas” is given additional depth and variety by the vocals of the talented young singer Brigitte Beraha who adds her voice to three of the album’s ten tracks.

Turville cites British pianist John Taylor as one of his primary influences, surely he couldn’t choose a better role model, and there are certainly elements of Taylor’s style in his playing. Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans are mentioned too but surprisingly not Brad Mehldau or Esbjorn Svensson although I seemed to detect traces of both when listening to the record.

The album kicks off with the spirited “First Flight” with Turville soloing fluently and joyously above the strong groove established by Hill’s hugely propulsive bass and Reynolds’ crisp, flexible drumming.

Next follows a lyrical exploration of the standard “All Or Nothing At All” with Turville subtly probing the harmonies with sensitive and intelligent support from his young rhythm team.

“Hand Maid” is one of the album’s stand out tracks with Reynolds enterprising and attention grabbing drum dialogue opening the piece backed by Turville’s insistent piano vamp. Turville later solos more expansively above Hill’s deep bass groove and Reynolds’ chattering percussion. Excellent.

Taylor’s chamber jazz group Azimuth featuring singer Norma Winstone were clearly a major influence on the album’s title track. Here Turville introduces the ethereal wordless vocals of the excellent Beraha who sounds uncannily like Winstone on this wispy, hauntingly beautiful piece.

When I first noticed the inclusion of Nick Drake’s “Fruit Tree” on this collection I was expecting a spiky, Mehldau type deconstruction. Instead Beraha sticks around to deliver Drake’s alarmingly prescient reflections on the fame game. It’s a highly effective version with Beraha’s fragile, Winstone like delivery bringing out the full beauty and gravitas of Drake’s lyrics. The backing by the trio is suitably sympathetic with Turville’s solo flowing and delicately lyrical.

Turville’s “Waltz For Bill Evans” is an affectionate and effective tribute to one of Turville’s piano heroes, the title a nod in the direction of one of Evans’ most famous compositions “Waltz For Debby”. The piece is very much in the Evans trio tradition with bassist Hill being given the opportunity to stretch out with a dexterous and sonorous solo.

The gentle layering of the equally lyrical“All Around Us” is another fine example of group interplay while “Crossfade” marks a partial return to the groove led feel of the album’s earlier tracks.

“Albaicin” is gently exploratory and recalls John Taylor’s “Angel Of the Presence” trio with Chris Laurence and Martin France. Reynolds matches France for inventiveness in a prolonged dialogue with Turville’s piano. Elsewhere Turville is fluent and inventive with Hill’s resonant bass the anchor.

The album concludes with a beautiful and all too brief version of Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” movingly sung by Beraha with only Turville’s piano for company.

“Midas” is a highly accomplished début recording for Turville as a leader. A well balanced programme covers a number of styles and bases and the interplay between the three principal musicians is consistently interesting. Hill’s huge tone and Reynolds’ colourful drumming complement the leader well, his playing a good balance between lyricism and muscularity. Beraha is the icing on the cake with three well judged and beautifully sung performances.

This album deserves to establish Turville as a major new figure on the British jazz scene.


09/01/2010 Mike Hobart

John Turville's fresh-sounding UK piano trio of bassist Chris Hill and drummer Ben Reynolds deliver a fresh balance of current concerns and conventional wisdom. The opening track wizzes from modern bustle to soulful blues, "All Or Nothing At All" sustains a linear stretch at a medium-slow tempo and there is a lovely in-style homage to the late Bill Evans. Volcalist Brigitte Beraha joins for the wordless, semi-operatic title track as well as Nick Drake's "Fruit Tree" and an atmosperic "Solitude".


31/12/2009 John Fordham

In the lineage of Gwilym Simcock and Kit Downes, John Turville is a young conservatoire-trained British pianist with very broadly-based resources – he recently won a British Promoters' Choice award, and tours in January and February for Jazz Services. Turville's adventurousness with harmony and the always lyrical yet narratively swerving designs of his improvisations often recall UK piano giant John Taylor's playing – but Waltz for Bill Evans, and the initially dewy and then capriciously accelerating All Around Us celebrate Evans's poetic instincts and responsive­ness to partners. The title track is a wispy wordless vocal for the excellent Brigitte Beraha (sounding at her most Norma Winstone-like) and Beraha's delicacy is also subtly applied to Nick Drake's Fruit Tree and a touching finale on Solitude. A little more of the urgency and rhythmic punch of the opening First Flight, or Ben Reynolds' drum dialogue with Turville's Monkish piano vamp and Chris Hill's bass on Hand Maid would have been welcome, but Turville is a promising recruit to the burgeoning group of promising UK jazz twentysomethings.


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