David Beebee – Planet B
(Available from Bandcamp – link below, Album review by Alison Bentley)
“There is no Planet B,” climate protesters remind us, but UK pianist David Beebee has created one with his trio, inhabited by his compelling compositions: acoustic funk and lyrical modern jazz.
It was the funk that first caught my ear, the track Planet B with its dark modes sometimes giving way to Jarrett-like harmony. Beebee has worked with Palestinian singer Reem Kelani, and there’s an Arabic flavour to some of his harmonies and unusual time signatures. In another life, Beebee is also a bassist, and these tunes seem to relish the upfront, earthy quality Dave Jones’ electric bass brings to the album. Here, the glittering textures of the drum solo (Eric Ford) follow the form, accentuated by carefully-rehearsed moments. Dark Matter opens with a funky drum solo, and the track is full of detailed sounds and oriental cymbal tones. Beebee runs his own studios (Beeboss) in Seaford in East Sussex where the album was (beautifully) recorded before lockdown. In Grizzly, the bass lumbers behind insistent chords in rocky dark piano modes, with Ligeti-like dissonance.
Beebee’s compositions and piano have a Romantic side too. He studied with the late John Taylor, and can make the piano sing the way his mentor did. Buenas Nachos has a soft Latin groove, while The Devil’s Kitchen, has a cinematic quality. Beebee has written for film, and there’s an emotive lift in the rising chords and increasing energy. Dappled Light has a delicious Messaien-ish harmony, the bass at odds with the spangly piano. The intensity builds with repeated chords, like Neil Cowley treading lightly. Cloud Cuckoo Land is spacey with complex dynamics, delicate piano and nimble Jaco-ness from Jones.
B for Blues veers between Afro-latin and swing. The blues is a feeling in Beebee’s rhythmic solo, with shivering drum rolls responding. What is This Thing Called Life has abop head which unmasks itself as the harmony comes in- it’s written to the chords to What is This Thing Called Love. Its forthright swing lets them all stretch out, as warm piano lines are articulated just behind the beat.
Planet B is a is a very enjoyable place to be, where the writing is imaginative and intriguing, the playing is tight with lots of space for solos and interaction and the musicians listen and respond intently to each other.
Categories: Album review