John Turville settled quickly into the zone at the Shearing Hour last night, the second running of the early-evening piano hour at Pizza Express Jazz Club.
The pianist, who last year released Conception with his trio (the title track, a much covered Shearing anthem) and most recently in duo with singer Brigitte Beraha on an album called Red Skies, had added another number to his growing book of Shearing arrangements, performing ‘Little White Lies’, the song written by Walter Donaldson, published in 1930. Paul McCartney told The Independent last year that the song was a childhood favourite of John Lennon’s.
After the section in ‘Little White Lies’ where, in vocals versions, the lyrics go: ‘Who wouldn’t believe those lips/Who wouldn’t believe those eyes/The night that you told me/Those little white lies’, Turville took the melody out, its fractured direction modulating tantalisingly, on the borderlands of bebop, terrain Shearing himself was expert in negotiating as the bebop revolution swept all over jazz in the 1940s and the 50s. The Battersea man in 1956 would release ‘Little White Lies’ included on his quintet album for Savoy (alongside a shorter selection of Red Norvo Trio tracks): Midnight on Cloud 69.
Turville’s sophisticated set last night also included the Shearing Hour theme, ‘September in the Rain’, and the E17 scene player performed his 2013 versions of Horace Silver’s ‘Room 608’ and ‘The Outlaw’, highlights from the first Shearing Hour in January. Turville also performed an extended suitably rococo version of ‘Conception’, plus ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ and ‘Station Break’ among other numbers, before heading off for a late night set in the company of other members of the Alex Merritt Quartet at the Ewer Street spot, the Jazz Nursery, south of the river.
After the Shearing Hour the Soho audience settled in for the second night of the Eli Degibri quartet.
The saxophonist has been much talked about since his superb quartet album Israeli Song (with Brad Mehldau, the great Ron Carter and Al Foster), released in 2010. But Wednesday night marked Degibri’s London debut as a leader.
Playing Degibri’s own music, with the former Berklee student now living in Israel, performing quite beautifully on tenor saxophone and soprano sax. Think Wish period Joshua Redman, with an individual approach by all four players in the band.
With Aaron Goldberg on piano, the bespectacled Barak Mori, providing a stimulating range of strong narrative departures on double bass, and the 19-year-old new star of the drums, Ofri Nehemya, classic ballad ‘Body and Soul’, at the end of the second set, was the icing on the cake of a superb performance, from start to finish. SG
The scene before the Shearing Hour top. The cover of Midnight on Cloud 69, middle; and Eli Degibri, above (photos: Marlbank)