The Dave Jones Quartet – Key Notes
(DJT008. CD review by Mike Collins)
Cardiff based pianist Dave Jones has an expansive recording and composing track record, ranging from the Celtic folk -Jazz crossover over of Burum, through film and TV writing, to an armful of recordings under his own name with ensembles large and small. The latest release, Key Notes, is a gem.
Jones has assembled a formidable quartet, all with Cardiff connections despite their national presence, to record a punchy set of six originals. Its no-nonsense jazz, with most of the one word titles signaling what to expect: Blues, Afro,Funky,Latin. Don’t be fooled however; there are plenty of surprises and thrills.
The opener, Sands, entices the listener in. First ghostly, cycling left hand chords; then a yearning repeating melodic fragment, Ben Waghorn’s tenor doubling the piano . Lloyd Haines’ ticking cymbal patterns add to the momentum before a singing, melodic solo from virtuosic bass man Ashley John Long morphs into a headlong burn up and the piano and tenor solos are a swirl of energy before the elegiac hook returns. It’s quite a scene setter. Jones’ writing is one of the stars of the show. He distils ideas down to fragments and lays them out, giving the band space to stretch out and really play. Blues is a series of stabbing exclamations evoking a blistering work out from Waghorn. Afro extracts maximum mileage from a catchy phrase and the multi instrumental talents of the quartet. Waghorn supplies attractively harmonized flute while Long doubles the melody and the rolling bass riff on vibes, before taking the first solo.
The vibes are there again on Funky whilst Jones and Waghorn really dig in. They close the set with Latin , Haines and Long locking together to create an outrageously infectious drive under Jones’ montunos and more fluent and hair raising soloing from Waghorn, back on flute for this one. The playing is high quality all round. Jones, whilst being the leader, ensures this is an ensemble performance giving everyone plenty of space. His own playing is unfailingly dynamic and driving, with light, shade and nuance injecting moments of poetry and reflection.
This studio album has the energy and excitement of a live performance.