"This CD will be an inspiration and a challenge for me to carry on in the avenues that you have opened. I've never gone so far into the unknown as you three but I have opened the door and peeked in. Your CD is an invitation to enter." Dave Brubeck
This is the Liam Noble Trio’s first recording, despite working together for many years, both as a rhythm section and an autonomous group. Liam has long been known for his highly original piano playing, his in depth knowledge of a number of the great jazz masters including Ellington and Bill Evans. But his longstanding admiration for Dave Brubeck is clearly demonstrable in this fascinating collection of some of Brubeck’s best known pieces. Dave Brubeck’s comments on the recording reveal Liam’s depth of understanding of this music providing new insights into its interpretation.
Release Date: 6th April 2009
Artist Liam Noble
Catalogue Number SRCD 26-2 PRESS RELEASE
Give A Little Whistle 8:08
It's A Raggy Waltz 4:42
In Your Own Sweet Way 1 3:09
Sixth Sense 9:47
Autumn In Washington Square 6:16
Take Five 4:29
La Paloma Azul 6:19
Three To Get Ready 5:09
Rising Sun 3:48
Blue Rondo A La Turk 6:51
In Your Own Sweet Way 2 2:30
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03/04/2009 John Fordham, The Guardian 5 STARS *****
This reappraisal of Dave Brubeck's work is so good that the jazz legend himself declared it "an inspiration and a challenge for me to carry on in the avenues that you have opened". Brubeck was an early inspiration for UK pianist Liam Noble, and here Noble takes a dozen of his classics - including Take Five, It's a Raggy Waltz, and Blue Rondo à la Turk - and gives them drastic makeovers. However, he is unfailingly respectful of the original melodies, even if he sometimes leaves it until the track is nearly over before bringing them in. Noble is a supreme motivic improviser, in the manner of Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins and, latterly, Brad Mehldau - not only in the way he unearths fresh melodies on the fly, but entwines them with earlier ideas in the solo and tell-tale echoes of the theme. He delivers a poignant and eventually audacious In Your Own Sweet Way; and introduces Take Five as a folksy doodle, barely related to the original, then turns it into a churning vamp, ending with the theme. On Blue Rondo, the stabbing chords, cymbal crashes and metallic treble sounds don't give way to the famous tune until the final moments. Bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Dave Wickins are key partners in what amounts to a tour de force. No wonder the octogenarian Brubeck thinks it might help him start all over again.
01/04/2009 Philip Clark, The Wire
Dave Brubeck gives British pianist Liam
Noble the sort of plug that’s a publicist’s wet dream. Not surprisingly, Noble has reproduced it on the flipside of his cover. “This CD will be an inspiration for me,” Brubeck writes. “I’ve never gone so far into the unknown as you three, but I have opened the door and peaked in. Your CD is an invitation to enter.”
And I’d chuck into that equation the thought that Noble – a pianist who crosses from jazz into free improv with ease – hears in Brubeck’s playing, alongside his roots in blues and swing, a free jazz mindset. Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton heard that liberated side of his playing too, and in his album of Brubeck compositions Noble has extracted this benevolent anarchy and exploded it on to an epic canvas.
Back in 1959, the Brubeck Quartet’s version of “Three To Get Ready” was elegant and unflustered. Noble stamps on that mood by flattening the alternating bars of 3/4 and 4/4 that gave the original its poise. He sucks Brubeck’s line into an out of tempo slipstream that bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Dave Wickins perpetually reform with scratchy timbres and concertinaed time: having extrapolated his spiky, fizzling energies, Noble re-introduces fragments of Brubeck’s original under his dense textures.
“Take Five” and “Blue Rondo A La Turk” are like modern catchphrases, but Noble is unfazed. He moves towards “Take Five” twisting its harmonies around 360 degrees, running to catch up with Brubeck’s iconic vamp as it appears on the horizon. There are some niche Brubeck compositions here too: “Sixth Sense” opens up into a monumental blues, while he catchy “Cassandra” features Wickins’s “Baby Dodds meets Tony Oxley” solo.
20/02/2009 Al Brownlee, Manchester Evening News ****
In a project that makes solid commercial and artistic sense, pianist Liam Noble here explores the legacy of Dave Brubeck. He has thoroughly absorbed Brubeck’s mischief, exuberance, unsquare sense of rhythm and criss-cross counterpoint. Give A Little Whistle and It’s A Raggy Waltz capture the proper exultant spirit.
But Noble is a creative musician, and imitation is not an option. So Take Five slips into its famous theme from an unlikely angle and Blue Rondo A La Turk emerges from fragments and is gone the moment it becomes recognisable.
‘Further out’ indeed, but the sleeve carries a nice endorsement from Brubeck himself. The two-Dave rhythm team of Whitford and Wickens acquit themselves with distinction.
04/02/2009 Times Online, Alyn Shipton **** - LIVE REVIEW
Liam Noble at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Now aged 88, Dave Brubeck is one of the iconic figures in jazz, although with the exception of a couple of his compositions his vast repertoire remains largely unexplored by any pianist but himself. That has now changed. Leading a trio capable of tackling anything from free improvisation to tightly swinging four (or five or three) to the bar, the British pianist Liam Noble has come up with a highly creative approach that shines the spotlight on several previously unnoticed twists and turns of the old master's music.
Brubeck has taken a close interest, saying of Noble's forthcoming album, “I've never gone as far into the unknown as you three, but I have opened the door and peeked in. Your CD is an invitation to enter.” I suspect that Brubeck would have been even more impressed had he been in Birmingham to hear the trio launch the live version of its interpretations.
Noble's own credentials as a pianist make him an ideal candidate to explore Brubeck's music. In the deconstruction of Give a Little Whistle (loosely based on the Dave Digs Disney album) he took fragments of the melody and coaxed them into darting right-hand runs, inverted them into left-hand chordal clusters, and worried a remaining right-hand phrase like a terrier with a rag before dashing into a free-flowing solo over conventionally swinging bass and drums.
He is helped by the consistently inventive drumming of Dave Wickins, whose lovely old drum kit with blocks, chimes, and bells gave him a rich tonal palette for a congenial musical conversation with Noble. The old favourites Take Five and Blue Rondo were cunningly placed late in the set, but by then we'd travelled the lesser-known Japanese pathways of Rising Sun, complete with unorthodox percussion from Wickins, and fallen in with the Mexican lilt of La Paloma Azul, underpinned by Dave Whitford's mesmeric bass. Noble's explorations were never less than interesting and usually fascinating - a good excuse to pull the original albums off the shelf and see what other gems have been inadvertently overlooked.
03/02/2009 Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post**** - LIVE REVIEW
Pianist Liam Noble wasn’t exactly playing to a home crowd but he has a lot of local support, especially from the Birmingham Conservatoire students he teaches.
And aren’t they a lucky lot? Not only are Noble’s consummate skills as a jazz pianist clearly shown by this current trio project, but so is his thorough research of its subject matter: the music of Dave Brubeck.
He has a new CD awaiting release in April and Saturday’s concert began as it does, with Give A Little Whistle, the Pinocchio tune covered by Brubeck in an album of Disney songs.
Noble may be a familiar face in Birmingham, bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Dave Wickins are less so: the former fulfilled the expectations of so many modern bassists by being the solid central fulcrum about which wild things can spin, the latter was almost exhaustingly busy on a marvellously archaic kit and loads of added toys.
The three men worked their way through familiar Brubeck pieces, including It’s A Raggy Waltz, Three To Get Ready, Blue Rondo A La Turk and Paul Desmond’s Take Five, as well as lesser known tunes like Autumn In Washington Square and the Japanese-tinged Rising Sun.
Noble is the right man to play Brubeck – neither seems either able or willing to play a soppy chord or a sentimental line, even though Dave wrote the very pretty In Your Own Sweet Way and Liam played it (once solo and with the band as an encore) beautifully.
A crucial difference for me is that I have always found Brubeck’s playing a little splashy of tone and hard of touch, whereas Noble’s more exacting articulation is much easier to listen to while losing none of the excitement.