LIVE at AMG 2014

Artist: Dave Jones

Date of Release: 09/12/2014

Catalogue no: DJT006

Label: DJT

Price: £12

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Track Listing







5 to 3 on Friday




The Metro




Welsh Rarebit




Funky Thing








Creative Petrol






Featuring a new interpretation of Dave's composition 'Welsh Rarebit', which has just reached the semi-finals of the International Songwriting competition


This new live album by the Dave Jones Quartet is taken from a recording of their performance at AMG (Acoustic Meeting Ground) in Pontardawe Arts Centre, on Friday 28 March 2014, which was originally intended as merely a test recording for a new mixing desk. However, after listening back to the initial mixes, it became obvious that Andrew Wal Coughlan’s great recording had captured a really nice live vibe that night, and it warranted a day or two of mixing and mastering at his Bridgerow Studios, to produce a releasable CD.

The resulting CD is just under an hour of the 70 minutes or so of music that the Quartet played that night, so it’s as real a live album as you’ll encounter, particularly bearing in mind the complexities of sharing a quite compact stage and a drum kit with several other bands, in a very lively acoustic, and with no option of extra takes to choose from on a 2nd or 3rd night.

Pianist/composer Dave Jones’s Quartet line-up of Lee Goodall (saxes), Ashley John Long (bass), and Kevin Lawlor (drums), formed the core of their highly acclaimed 2012 ‘Resonance’ album personnel (which also featured The Mavron String Quartet and a brass section), and the compositions performed here are in equal measure from ‘Resonance’ and from the previous album ‘Journeys’ (The London Evening Standard’s Jazz CD of the week, 13/08/2010), but these live versions in 2014 are longer, more improvised, and more urgent.

Consequently, the Quartet work overtime in the live context, particularly bassist Ashley John Long, who performs the work of several string players when providing the pizzicato string loop on ‘The Metro’, and when he takes the bowed cello melody on double bass on ‘Journeys’, and also saxophonist Lee Goodall who wails on soprano over the extended closing section of the same track, which was originally written for piano trio and strings only.




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".

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.

The track listing on “Live at AMG 2014” is;

5 to 3 on Friday
The Metro
Welsh Rarebit
Funky Thing
Creative Petrol

More information at http://www.davejonesjazz.com


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