CD review

Huw Warren – “Live at Ucheldre, Vol 2”

Huw Warren – Live at Ucheldre, Vol 2
(Download from Bandcamp. Album Review by Jon Turney)

Huw Warren, one of the UK’s most interesting pianists, has a string of fine trio, duo and solo recordings – three of them in the last couple of years. It’s always good to hear more from him, so we’re fortunate lockdown has given him time to revisit recordings from 2016 that showcase his live solo work.

Volume 2 – available as a pay-what-you-want download from Bandcamp – complements the delicious all-Brazilian selection he gave us on Volume 1 a few months ago. Like that set, the music is taken from three themed nights at the Ucheldre Centre, a renovated chapel in Holyhead. It’s pleasingly eclectic, opening and closing with a couple of standards, Darn that Dream and It Never Entered my Mind, and taking in a piercingly lovely version of John Taylor’s Ambleside and a small piece of Elgar that leads into Warren’s EE, a tune heard on his recent CD Nocturnes and Visions.

The longest item, at nearly 18 minutes, is an extended treatment of his John Dowland-inspired tune Teares. Like two previous recordings of the piece, this begins with a slow statement of the haunting melody and proceeds to a few variations. But around where the others finish this one takes off into a much longer extemporisation, first chordal, then moving into counterpoint, always tunefully inventive, before coming back home.

This inspired effort, like the others, is preserved just as it came, with no editing or mixing. It does what a live recording should, capturing a creative spirit as it takes flight. It’s a spirit – thoughtful, resourceful, unfailingly melodic – that informs all Warren’s work, but is particularly well represented here.

Huw Warren will be appearing at the (virtual) Brecon Jazz Festival 2020, which begins on Friday 7 August. FULL PROGRAMME HERE

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. jonturney.co.uk.  Twitter: @jonWturney 

Categories: CD review

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