John Turville Trio: Midas (2010)
If the carefully composed, monochrome cover art of the John Turville Trio's debut album suggests the ECM label's house style, the coincidence is appropriate. Midas is high-end piano trio jazz, beautifully recorded (in Italy). It consists in the main of tunes written by pianist Turville, is shot through with muscular lyricism, and resonates with the work of Keith Jarrett and John Taylor. In its occasional, forceful use of bass or drums as lead instruments, it also chimes with the late Esbjorn Svensson's trio, although elliptically and without the electronic effects. None of this is to deny the British group's individuality, which is considerable.
The disc is released on the London-based F-IRE Collective's F-IRE Presents series, which exists to promote work by friends of the collective, most of them taking their early steps in the album, as opposed to gigging, business. The Turville trio was formed in 2003 and is acquiring a growing live following: in 2009 it won the British Promoter's Choice Award after a nomination by ex-Loose Tubes saxophonist Tim Whitehead.
Midas shows the two most winning attributes of the trio off to great effect. The first is Turville's own writing and improvising style, which favors an engaging ebb and flow of dynamics and tempos, some of it pre-composed, some of it in the moment. The second is the affinity between Turville, bassist Chris Hill and drummer Ben Reynolds, who wheel and curve through the shape shifting music as one. Hill, on tour in early 2010 with singer Jamie Cullum, and Reynolds, part of the BBC award-winning band Fraud and a regular playing partner of saxophonist Mark Lockheart, pace Turville flame for flame and whisper for whisper.
There are three covers, two of them1960s singer/songwriter Nick Drake's "Fruit Tree" and Duke Ellington's "Solitude"featuring guest vocalist Brigitte Beraha. The wistful character of both songs is well suited to Beraha's ethereal soprano.
Along with his own trio, Turville has played regularly with saxophonist Tim Garland's Lighthouse Trio, is active in several tango-inspired projects, and directs and writes for London's E17 big band. He's also a member of the LOOP Collective's Dog Soup, which began, with Turville on Fender Rhodes, as a transcription project playing the music of trumpeter Miles Davis' "lost" 1969 quintet. Midas is a masterly exposition of a more timeless acoustic tradition.
Track Listing: First Flight; All Or Nothing At All; Hand Maid; Midas; Fruit Tree; Waltz For Bill Evans; All Around Us; Crossfade; Albaicin; Solitude.
Personnel: John Turville: piano; Chris Hill: bass; Ben Reynolds: drums; Brigitte Beraha: vocals (4, 5, 10).