|Tim Richards at Scarborough in 2004
Photo credit: William Ellis
Tim Richards – Solo Piano
(The City Lit, Keeley Street, London WC2. 9th March 2017. Review by Jane Mann)
Jazz pianist and composer Tim Richards played a well-attended free lunchtime concert at the City Lit, the venerable adult education centre in Covent Garden. The first-floor Recital Room is a double height space with a magnificent Steinway grand piano in front of huge windows, and it has a lovely acoustic. Richards does not gig frequently in London, and rarely on solo piano, so this performance was a treat.
Richards announced that he would be trying out some new tunes, written for a tutor book to be published next year, and playing a few earlier works and jazz classics.
He began with his own Blues in 3, a deceptively simple and attractive piece, before storming into a robust version of Monk’s Epistrophy. Then came Ellington’s Come Sunday. When the audience applauded enthusiastically, Richards commented modestly “it plays itself really”, and gave us his Bluesology, Smiling, and Fish Wish (from his 2005 album Epistrophy). After a fantastically loud and confident Rhythm a Ning which made the lower register of the Steinway ring out, he tried out his new pieces: a rollicking calypso for which he asked the audience to suggest a title; and a melodic Impressionist piece called Seraglio – an evocation of a palace in Istanbul apparently – which I liked very much. He then played Discovery, originally written for sextet, which was recorded on the 2015 album Telegraph Hill. Dave Gelly, who has described Richards as “one of the cornerstones of contemporary British jazz” declared Telegraph Hill “a joy from start to finish” in his review. Richards finished the set with a new piece, Tudeley which was inspired by a visit to a church near Tonbridge which has a set of glorious stained glass windows by Chagall. This was beautiful writing and playing – Tudeley is one of those uncategorizable harmonically rich pieces of art music which contemporary music fans would enjoy as much as a jazz audience.
Richards demonstrates great versatility as composer and pianist. He is comfortable with a broad range of musical forms and styles, and this gig was a varied delight.