CD Review: Dave Stapleton – Flight

Dave Stapleton – Flight
(Edition Records EDN1032. CD Review by Chris Parker)

Pianist/composer Dave Stapleton has packed an immense amount of worthwhile activity into the decade or so since he graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama: he’s released seven albums under his own name, led a vigorous quintet attracting consistent critical acclaim, composed scores for films and animations, written several works for strings, and founded one of the most enterprising jazz labels in the business, releasing albums by (among many others) Phronesis, Troyka, Keith Tippett and Josh Arcoleo.

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This album, which features Stapleton alongside Scandinavian tenor sensation Marius Neset, UK bassist Dave Kane and drummer Olavi Louhivuori, with the Brodowski String Quartet imparting elegance, controlled power and a wealth of textural variety to the proceedings, is a showcase for his many compositional talents.

In its 75 minutes, it contains everything from bustling, tumultuous free-ish jazz spearheaded by Neset’s scalding tenor and limpid, meditative pieces strongly reminiscent of the work of Tord Gustavsen to lyrical, immediately accessible melodies skilfully interwoven with imaginative string-quartet writing, but whatever the mood or tempo, Stapleton is at the heart of things, his tasteful but robust piano holding the intriguingly varied elements together and ensuring they form a richlysatisfying whole.

An ambitious but intensely rewarding album from a gifted and apparently indefatigably industrious figure.

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