Monday, October 14, 2013

Paul Edis - "Not Like Me"

Paul Edis can claim to have been composing and performing for most of his life, although his formal training began at the London College of Music in 2003, training under the supervision of Kit Turnbull, Paul Robinson, Francis Pott and Laurence Roman. Progressing further into the academic world he completed an MA and PhD in Composition at the University of York. Over the years he has been involved with a variety of musical projects, including the Nocturne String Quartet and the Paul Edis Sextet and Trio. He has utilised his musical skills and passion in a diverse range of teaching posts both privately and for a number of regional academic institutions. This cornucopia of influences and experiences both in the field of classical and jazz music has informed the work on his latest release “Not Like Me”, recorded, mixed and engineered at the Literary and Philosophical Society, Newcastle. Turning his hand to an assortment of solo piano pieces, nine of which are original compositions, “Not Like Me” showcases how versatile his playing is in a variety of compositional settings. Opening with “Pulse”, a contemplative piece based around a pulse, one cannot but help but be reminded of the improvisational work of players such as Keith Jarrett in the interplay between the theme and the opportunities for spontaneous accompaniments.
Melancholia radiates out from “From Nothing to Nowhere”, a piece in which, again, the juxtaposition between the worlds of classical music and jazz forms a meditative cohesion. To take on such an absolute jazz “standard” as “’Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk and give it an imaginative character is singularly courageous, and thankfully the arrangement here infuses the original motifs with precisely the amount of originality appropriate within the context of the album. The leitmotif is suggested and teased out, whilst the tunes basic themes are skirted around and toyed with, not disrespectfully, but almost with a na├»ve joy only available to someone who is proficient at structural composition and improvisation. . The other familiar tunes that are deconstructed here are given similar treatment. “My Favourite Things” becomes almost unrecognisable apart from the opening phrases, whilst “Bring Me Sunshine” (most identifiable as the signature tune for comedians Morecambe and Wise) is strident and witty, and again illustrates how Paul Edis is so adroit at gauging how far to push a tune so ingrained in popular culture. 
Of the original compositions, the title track “Not Like Me’ is brisk yet uncluttered and the delicate “For Bill” is luxuriously romantic very much in the style and delivery of its’ namesake. “Vignette” has a tender childlike quality that would have even the most hard to please listener considering their own sentient being, whilst “Olivier” diplays a layer of dissonance which leads the casual listener temporarily outside of their comfort zone, as any true progressive music should be attempting to do. As the album closes with “Sunrise”, another achingly provocative piece, the faithful listener has been taken along a journey of melancholia, dissonance, humour and romanticism, and what more could you expect from one man and his piano?

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