Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best Albums Of 2010: Dave Stapleton

JazzWrap revisits our favourite albums of 2010.

Dave Stapleton (piano)
Between The Lines (Edition Records)

Another surprise album for me this year was from Dave Stapleton, the young but highly accomplished pianist/composer from England and his impressive quintet. Their third album Between The Lines (Edition Records) was one of those consistently rewarding listens throughout the year. I found myself having a new favourite song with every listen.

Stapleton's classical training and a strong dose of Herbie Hancock is apparent throughout Between The Lines. The album starts with the melodic drone of "October Sky" and then really kicks into gear with the funky psychedelic rhythms of "Horn" obviously the focal point for the Bruce and Waghorn, whom both shine brightly on here and throughout Between The Lines. "Horn" is really killer and set a perfect fresh and exciting tone for the rest of the session.

While the rest of the British jazz community is stretching the boundaries of the avant garde, Dave Stapleton is using the tradition and improving upon it. This is really, really compelling stuff from a band that has definitely been together awhile and knows each other inside and out. "Socks First" shows the delicate nature of the band some truly exquisite simpatico as each member features prominently. The titled track, "Between The Lines" starts with some lovely playing by the rhythm section and some understated piano work from Stapleton. A lovely number for those you wishing for a glass of wine with your jazz.

Lots of funky interplay take place on "Wig Wag" between Paula Gardiner (bass), Jonny Bruce (trumpet) and Ben Waghorn (sax) which could be placed along side some of the better moments of Jools Hollands or mid-period Branford Marsalis works. Fun, exuberant exchanges with lots passion built into ever note.

"Under The Cherry Tree" is the band performing a lovely ballad in the vein of Keith Jarrett and Sonny Rollins and moves with great ease taking the album to a wonderful conclusion with "Images" a sparse romantic number highlighting Stapleton's classical tradition on piano and again some great work from Waghorn.

In a year dominated with E.S.T. clones and avant garde creativeness (Not that there's anything wrong with avant garde. That's what JazzWrap is based on for crap sakes.) Between The Lines is a refresh and absorbing release that can be enjoyed on many levels. One of 2010 contemporary masterpieces.

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