Nikki Iles – Hush
Basho SRCD 38-2. CD Review by Chris Parker
‘Unforced interaction and intimacy […] which allows for a continuous free flow of ideas’ is pianist/composer Nikki Iles‘s description of the ideal modus operandi for a jazz band, and in bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Jeff Williams she has found the perfect partners to realise her dream.
Despite being one of the most accomplished of UK pianists – her tone is ravishing, her dynamic control exemplary and her solos consistently subtle and satisfying – Iles has not made a trio album since Everything I Love with the Canadian rhythm section Duncan Hopkins and Anthony Michelli (Basho, 2002); this one is well worth the decade’s wait.
Lyricism and mellifluousness rank high among Iles’s great strengths, so it is no surprise to find her choosing compositions by Kenny Wheeler (‘Everybody’s Song but My Own’), Ralph Towner (‘The Glide’), Michel Legrand (‘You Must Believe in Spring’) and Julian Argüelles (‘Hi Steve’) alongside her own pieces, a standard and a couple of modern jazz classics (Miles Davis’s ‘Nardis’, Dave Brubeck’s ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’) as the set for this album, and she approaches everything she plays with genuine respect, her love and knowledge of the compositions imbuing her interpretations of them with intimacy and reverence, liberally laced with musical wit, elegance and grace.
Reid and Williams are a dream team, despite never having played together before, subtly probing, filling and generally embellishing an unequivocally enjoyable album, packed with delicate felicities and considered inventiveness.