Reviews of Paul Edis
25/09/2014 Lance Liddle
There have been several ground-breaking bands in the north-east during my lifetime. The innovative (in its day) Dixieland of the Panama Jazzmen and the hard bop of the Emcee Five - until last night the yardstick by which bands north, south, east and west of Sage Gateshead, have been judged.
Last night's CD launch by the Edis Sextet placed them firmly on that exclusive plateau. This was music played by a band and composed by a leader that bore comparision with anything recorded in London, LA or New York over the past 50 years - maybe longer.
Originals that are original and solos that display technique and creativity without resorting to banshee-like howls made this a most enjoyable evening.
Russell gave a rave review to the CD which, rather than duplicating with my own misspelt rhetoric, I can do no worse than to refer you to that review via the link below.
05/06/2014 Andy Hamilton
It's a real joy to hear a new voice in jazz...a real jazz composer...a very thoughtful improviser.
05/11/2013 Ian Mann
“Not Like Me”
Paul Edis is a highly versatile pianist/keyboardist based in Durham and he is a leading figure on the jazz scene in the North East of England. Still only twenty eight Edis graduated with first class honours from London College of Music in 2006 and completed a PhD in Composition at the University of York in 2012. His playing and writing skills were highlighted on his début album as a leader “There Will Be Time” (Jazzaction Records), a sextet recording that owed something to the “Blue Note” sound of Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. Nevertheless Edis brought plenty of himself to the proceedings and the album was very well received and made the Jazzwise list as one of the best albums of 2012.
Edis’ ability has ensured that his trio featuring bassist Mick Shoulder and drummer Adam Sinclair is the “first call” combination for London based or international soloists visiting the North East. He’s a skilled sight reader, accompanist and musical director who has recorded with vocalist Ruth Lambert and with Newcastle based funk/jazz/soul outfit Nick Pride & The Pimptones.
Edis is also a key member of ACV the jazz/prog quintet led by double bassist Andy Champion. Here Edis plays both piano and electric keyboards and the group is beginning to forge a national reputation following the release of their second album “Busk” (2013) which appears on the long established London based Babel label.
With “ Not Like Me” Edis reveals yet another side of his playing and musical personality on a solo piano recording that is available as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Further information is available from http://www.pauledis.co.uk
The material on the new digital album includes nine original compositions plus three highly personalised arrangements of outside material, Monk’s “Round Midnight”, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “My Favourite Things” (presumably inspired by the version by John Coltrane) and more surprisingly “Bring Me Sunshine” written by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee and immortalised by Morecambe and Wise.
Edis’ own tunes such as the opening “Pulse” offer reminders of his classical background, as a child he studied piano, flute and composition. But “Pulse” is also a convincing piece of contemporary piano jazz with Edis striking a good balance between right hand melody and left hand rhythmic patterns. There’s a classically derived lightness of touch and an “ECM” like use of space that is highly effective but any superficial “prettiness” is countered by a willingness to stretch out and explore as exemplified by Edis’ mid tune extemporisations.
Similar virtues are brought to bear on the following “From Nothing To Nowhere” before Monk’s “Round Midnight” is given a respectful reading with Edis avoiding any slavish copying and placing his own British/European stamp on the music.
“Eastern” begins with interior scrapings and string dampenings before opening out to embrace sombre but often beautiful melody, again in a contemporary style that draws upon both jazz and classical influences.
The title track begins sparely and offers a intriguing variations around a central motif with Edis adding more layers and nuances as the piece progresses, all the while displaying a kind of intellectual rigour.
I assume that the gently elegiac “For Bill” is a tribute to the late, great Bill Evans, a musician whose influence seems to be present within much of the music to be heard throughout this album.
“Vignette” is pretty and unadorned, and I suspect that “Olivier” is a tribute to Messiaen with Edis’ high register right hand trills reminiscent of the bird song transcriptions that appear in many of Messiaen’s compositions.
Edis’ version of “My Favourite Things”, presumably inspired by John Coltrane, involves the innovative and inventive use of unusual time signatures and intervals. The piece is wholly recognisable but with Edis approaching it in a variety of styles and tempos. It makes for interesting and enjoyable listening with a tantalising classical quote (Bach?) thrown in at the end.
“Beneath The Surface” is a stately and lyrical Edis original.
“Bring Me Sunshine” sees the pianist having more fun by approaching this much loved item in much the same way as “Favourite Things”. There’s an almost ragtime feel about some of the quirky and fragmented rhythms as Edis deconstructs the tune but in an affectionate and good natured manner.
The Edis original “Sunrise” ends the album on an optimistic note, his aural depiction of the dawn beginning with a fragment of melody on the horizon and ascending into something more substantial as the piece develops. Suitably unhurried it’s another example of Edis at his lyrical best.
“Not Like Me” sees Edis taking on the challenge of the solo piano album and succeeding well. Much of the original material is highly lyrical, often beautiful, and sees the pianist embracing both his jazz and classical roots. “Round Midnight” is interpreted in a similar vein but the other two covers introduce an element of fun with Edis interpretations displaying both wit and invention.
Each tune is a self contained journey that impresses in its own right but the album also seems to have a unifying aesthetic and hangs well together as a whole. It was recorded in a single day at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle and was engineered by Adam Sinclair with Edis and Sinclair co-producing. The pair do a good job and the sound is excellent throughout, fully bringing out the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic nuances of Edis’ playing. It’s an album that brings out yet another aspect of Edis’ talent and versatility and it’s unfortunate that it’s not yet been granted a full CD release.
14/10/2013 John Toolan
Paul Edis can claim to have been composing and performing for most of his life, although his formal training began at the London College of Music in 2003, training under the supervision of Kit Turnbull, Paul Robinson, Francis Pott and Laurence Roman. Progressing further into the academic world he completed an MA and PhD in Composition at the University of York. Over the years he has been involved with a variety of musical projects, including the Nocturne String Quartet and the Paul Edis Sextet and Trio. He has utilised his musical skills and passion in a diverse range of teaching posts both privately and for a number of regional academic institutions.
This cornucopia of influences and experiences both in the field of classical and jazz music has informed the work on his latest release “Not Like Me”, recorded, mixed and engineered at the Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle. Turning his hand to an assortment of solo piano pieces, nine of which are original compositions, “Not Like Me” showcases how versatile his playing is in a variety of compositional settings.
Opening with “Pulse”, a contemplative piece based around a pulse, one cannot but help but be reminded of the improvisational work of players such as Keith Jarrett in the interplay between the theme and the opportunities for spontaneous accompaniments.
Melancholia radiates out from “From Nothing to Nowhere”, a piece in which, again, the juxtaposition between the worlds of classical music and jazz forms a meditative cohesion. To take on such an absolute jazz “standard” as “’Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk and give it an imaginative character is singularly courageous, and thankfully the arrangement here infuses the original motifs with precisely the amount of originality appropriate within the context of the album. The leitmotif is suggested and teased out, whilst the tunes basic themes are skirted around and toyed with, not disrespectfully, but almost with a naïve joy only available to someone who is proficient at structural composition and improvisation. . The other familiar tunes that are deconstructed here are given similar treatment. “My Favourite Things” becomes almost unrecognisable apart from the opening phrases, whilst “Bring Me Sunshine” (most identifiable as the signature tune for comedians Morecambe and Wise) is strident and witty, and again illustrates how Paul Edis is so adroit at gauging how far to push a tune so ingrained in popular culture.
Of the original compositions, the title track “Not Like Me’ is brisk yet uncluttered and the delicate “For Bill” is luxuriously romantic very much in the style and delivery of its’ namesake. “Vignette” has a tender childlike quality that would have even the most hard to please listener considering their own sentient being, whilst “Olivier” diplays a layer of dissonance which leads the casual listener temporarily outside of their comfort zone, as any true progressive music should be attempting to do. As the album closes with “Sunrise”, another achingly provocative piece, the faithful listener has been taken along a journey of melancholia, dissonance, humour and romanticism, and what more could you expect from one man and his piano?
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