John Turville – piano
Julian Argüelles – tenor and soprano saxophone
Robbie Robson – trumpet
Dave Whitford – double bass
James Maddren – drums
Recorded at Artesuono Studio in Udine, Italy 11th and 12th April 2017
Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Stefano Amerio
Vinyl Mastering by Peter Beckmann
Produced by John Turville
Executive Producer – Michael Janisch
released February 22, 2019
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Pianist and educator John Turville has established himself as a mainstay of the UK and European contemporary jazz scenes in his varied roles as sideman, co-leader and trio/quartet leader. So it’s testament to his considerable reputation that this debut quintet release, Head First, should include the estimable names of saxophonist Julian Argüelles, double bassist Dave Whitford, drummer James Maddren; and, perhaps a new name to some, versatile trumpeter Robbie Robson.
Inspired greatly by the music of mentor John Taylor, as well as Kenny Wheeler, Turville was one of many artists who came together for the Jazz Piano Summit concert of 2015 dedicated to Taylor’s immeasurable musical legacy. There, Turville presented his own homage, ‘A Perfect Foil’, igniting a desire to realize originals and interpretations for an expanded line-up. The resulting collaboration, featuring Julian Argüelles, is a radiant celebration of British jazz creativity which also confirms the pianist’s mastery of composition and performance.
Being in the studio – not least the crystalline ambience of Artesuono, in Italy – is an environment in which Turville feels at home: “As a leader, there comes increased artistic freedom, so I love thinking on my feet and experimenting – and over two days of recording, my band was in total alignment with the vibe and energy I was looking for.” His sound world is informed by the likes of Fred Hersch (the album title a playful though gracious twist on his name) and Bill Evans, yet is frequently imbued with the harmonic colouring of classical composers such as John Ireland, Federico Mompou and the French Romantics.
Bustling ‘Fall Out’, with strong horn motifs and driving, bass-propelled rhythms, was originally penned by Turville for quartet, then big band (note the ‘Kenny’ warmth in Robson’s soloing); and turbulent, piano-figured ‘Seahorses’ recalls a stormy sea trip off Seahouses, on the wild Northumberland coast, reflected in billowing, improvisatory freedom. ‘Almagro Nights’, for piano trio, is full of Buenos Aires hustle, spotlighting Turville’s brightness at the keyboard, while impressionistic soprano-and-piano ‘Interval Music’ finds Argüelles waltzing oh so elegantly into the sublime, descending phrases of ‘A Perfect Foil’.
Brisk samba, ‘Head First’, characterised by bass and piano features, leads to ‘Ennerdale’, whose yearning horns and lush pianism evoke the serenity of The Lake District (listen out for the quotation of Taylor’s ‘Ambleside’); and a gossamer trumpet-and-piano arrangement of Diego Schissi’s ‘Cancion 4’ echoes a certain Wheeler melancholy. Turville’s championing of favorite artists continues with a blithe piano trio take on Brazilian jazz guitarist Toninho Horta’s ‘Francisca’, while the tenor fluidity of Julian Argüelles’ ‘A Month in Tunisia’ is buoyed by Whitford’s and Maddren’s West African-pulsed precision. Lisztian mystery threads through ‘Cyclic Chorale’s tentative trio openness before the set closes with a luxuriously swinging interpretation of Michel Petrucciani’s ‘Beautiful But Why’.
John Turville confirms, “It’s just a dream to work with this quintet.” Throughout Head First, it’s plainly obvious why.
"Energetic ensemble playing, all infused with Turville's sensitive piano."
London Jazz News
"Excitement, lyricism, interesting themes and solos that are logical without being obvious."
Bebop Spoken Here
"A really outstanding release from the forefront of contemporary UK jazz."
"An album of intelligence and finesse."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"Beautifully understated acoustic sound."
★★★★ BBC Music Magazine
"The writing by Turville and others is richly varied, embracing a variety of jazz styles and borrowing judiciously from other musical genres. The playing, from an all star cast is excellent throughout."
the Jazz Mann
"Gorgeous musical colours and outstanding original themes."
London Jazz News
The writing by Turville and others is richly varied, embracing a variety of jazz styles and borrowing judiciously from other musical genres. The playing, from an all star cast is excellent throughout.
The Jazz Mann
"A warm, uplifting album."
Hi-Fi News & Record Review