David Rees-Williams Trio

DAVID WAKEFIELD St Peter Mancroft, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)


St Peter Mancroft, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

It's over 40 years since Jacques Loussier's Play Bach trio proved what John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet had been doing for some time - that classical time signature boundaries can be easily crossed, and Bach is a case in point. So first impressions of this trio is that it's doing nothing new in swinging the classics; but those impressions were soon brushed away.

This tightly-knit unit, with Rees-Williams (piano), Neil Francis (bass guitar) and Phil Laslett (drums) not only goes where the French master has gone, but further still.

Into Bach, certainly, as of all the great composers his work translates well into the jazz genre; but also Ravel, Elgar, Purcell and Charles Stanford (the latter's Magnificat played as a bossa nova, for heaven's sake). With this trio it isn't simply a case of swinging the classics but delving into them and improvising - not radically, as with the American Uri Caine, but with a sense that they are coming more from a jazz direction than anything else.

Certainly as a technician David Rees-Williams loses nothing by comparison to Loussier, and his playing is certainly less predictable and is more enjoyable as a result. He can certainly swing, as on the scampering amalgam that formed From Bach To Buxtehude; but really shines on more delicate material. Purcell's beautiful Music For A While was, for me, the highlight of the concert. Let's have them back again soon.

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