Live reviews

REVIEW: John Turville Quartet with Julian Argüelles at Eastside Jazz Club, Birmingham

John Turville Quartet with Julian Argüelles at Eastside Jazz Club
Photo: © John Watson/
John Turville Quartet with Julian Argüelles
(Eastside Jazz Club, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, 27 February 2019. Review and photos by John Watson)

There often comes a turning point in a musician’s career, a milestone at which a respected player becomes a much more significant musical force and develops a strong individual personality.

I would suggest that pianist John Turville has reached that point, with the release of his new album Head First (Whirlwind Recordings), and an extensive UK tour (more details below).

Turville has a wide range of influences, but has special affection for the music of pianist John Taylor and trumpeter-composer Kenny Wheeler, two much-missed giants of the UK scene. Inspired by many other sources, and with a wealth of experience in many large and small ensembles, Turville’s style is now quite distinctive, blending mellowness with splashes of bright colour, creating strong moods.

Head First has received enthusiastic reviews, not least from Patrick Hadfield in LondonJazzNews, and it was a delight to hear the music from the album performed live by his quartet, plus the brilliant tenor and soprano saxophonist Julian Argüelles, at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Eastside Jazz Club on what was the third date of the tour. The group is completed by trumpeter Robbie Robson, bassist Dave Whitford and drummer James Maddren, and all the musicians are familiar faces – as tutors as well as performers – at the conservatoire. Turville himself teaches jazz piano there, while Birmingham-raised Argüelles is an Honorary Fellow.
Julian Argüelles with the John Turville Quartet
Photo: © John Watson/
Some of the arrangements include tricky time signatures, and the complex interweaving of themes, but the group played with tremendous confidence. It was really extraordinary, for example, how Maddren could play so accurately and expressively while hardly ever needing to glance at the written dots.

But what counted was not just the technical expertise, but the gorgeous musical colours Turville has created in these pieces. Outstanding original themes included a ballad tribute to John Taylor, Ennerdale, and Interval Music, with exquisite blending of the horns of Argüelles and Robson, plus the album’s title track.

Robbie Robson at Eastside Jazz Club
Photo: © John Watson/
There were also some outstanding pieces by other composers, including Argüelles’ dynamic A Month In Tunisia – with an explorative tenor-drums intro – and the mellow Cancion 4, by Dan Schissi. with particularly expressive playing from Robson’s dark-toned trumpet.

John Watson’s photographs and writing can be found at

John Turville soloing in Birmingham
Photo: John Watson/
The quartet’s UK tour, supported by Arts Council England, kicked off at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho. Dates to come include Cambridge, Colchester, Wells, St Ives, Bushey, Nottingham, Sheffield and Brighton, plus workshops at the Royal Academy of Music in London and Leeds College of Music.

LINKS: John Fordham’s feature about Head First with links to tour schedule
Patrick Hadfields’s CD review

Categories: Live reviews

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