Sunday, January 24, 2016

Paul Edis – “Just Like Me” Edis Music

Regular attendees at Leeds jazz concerts over the past few years may have had the opportunity to see pianist Paul Edis in action. In a variety of contexts, solo, and larger groups or with vocalist Zoe Gilby, his piano playing offers a fragility and dexterity, which marks him out as a significant presence. This latest album release comes, as a companion to his 2013 release “Not Like Me”, and again, is a master class in emotion driven performance. Recorded at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle on the 5th June 2015 there is a sense that his surroundings are informing his playing, particularly on the opening “Montage” “Murmuration” and “Vince” pieces. There is a poignant delicacy to these pieces, which almost ache through the speakers at the listener. “Just Like Me” has a strident playfulness to lift the mood before he tackles John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”. Here he gives the jazz standard a thorough redefining and layers his own distinctive style over the more familiar phrases.
Reinterpreting familiar tunes such as “Greensleeves”, “Country Gardens” and “Skye Boat Song” would, on the surface, seem to be a difficult thing to undertake successfully, but again, the tunes are deconstructed and manipulated in such a way that at no time do they appear as a novelty interlude. The recognisable tunes poke their head up occasionally, but the mood is never broken. “Country Gardens” in particular has such an “Englishness” to it that deconstructing it in this way almost seems sacrilege, but enough of the original remains to respect its heritage. “For Kathleen” and “Cerebral” continue to illustrate what an accomplished wrier and performer he is, and how easily he can captivate the listener and draw them into the atmosphere of the piece. The album closes with two further original compositions; “Nostaloptimist” and “Sunset” both are bathed in that distinguishing melancholy which on one level invokes sorrow and agonizing reflection, but on another level is extraordinarily elevating and exuberant. Art that works on both those levels can surely be seen as important for the soul. Jazz Goes To Leeds has previously spoken of Paul Edis in the same breath as such pianists as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea and this release continues to incite such comparisons. Maybe Paul should consider a few vocal grunts during his playing to augment his style? Possibly not.

Visit the Paul Edis website here