The trio comprises pianist John Turville, double bassist Chris Hill and drummer Ben Reynolds, all busy players on the UK jazz scene. They have put together a distinctive set here with mostly Turville compositions, the exceptions being one from Hill, one for Radiohead (Scatterbrain) and one from George Shearing (the title tune).
The opener, Pharaoh Ant, has all those modern elements we like in a piano trio: changes of tempi, funky elements, close melodic and rhythmic interaction between the three players written into the piece, and an overall accessibility in melody and harmony. The Radiohead follows and maintains the mood, before things start to darken and get a little more challenging.
Turville has a background in classical music as well as jazz, and the former emerges in his writing and arranging in pieces like Barrio Once and Milonga, which have either cello of arco bass in prominent places, and a lot of contemporary classical elements mixed in with jazz and a tango tinge in the latter (Turville also plays in Birmingham’s El Ultimo Tango).
Fifth Floor offers a reflective intro which then builds into a jumpier groove, alternating the calm with the busyness, and including a tasty bass solo over rim-shots and clicks. Arc-En-Ciel is the ballad, rich with harmonic extension and subtle rhythmic accents.
Overall it’s an album of advanced music from three fine musicians but, with the exception of the Shearing track, it all feels a little cold and I didn’t really feel welcomed in as a listener. Perhaps they will prove warmer in live performance.
The John Turville Trio plays Symphony Hall Cafe Bar this evening from 5-7pm, and will likely be playing this music. It’s a Jazzlines gig and part of a Jazz Services tour.