Safe and Sound

Peter Edwards trio
Safe and Sound
Edwards Music Productions ***
Pianist Peter Edwards, who’s been touring recently in the band of singer Zara McFarlane’s and who appears on her highly acclaimed new album If You Knew Her, first turned heads when he arranged Ellington’s ‘The Queen’s Suite’ for the Tomorrow’s Warriors Jazz Orchestra. He’s joined by Partikel’s Max Luthert on bass, and relative newcomer drummer Moses Boyd fast making an impression in Gary Crosby’s promising new band Groundation. The chrysalis phase for Safe and Sound, an album that marks the 31-year-old pianist’s debut, was in 2011 when Edwards released an EP for Safe and Sound producer Tony Platt’s label Jazz Lotion with Luthert and Ronnie Scott’s Bar house drummer Saleem Raman.

Recorded at London's Snap studio last year the highly rhythmic 10 tracks here, all Edwards’ with the exception of a cheekily joyful take on Monk’s ‘I Mean You’, often depend on the interplay between piano and bass for the setting out of the improvising roadmap, for instance on the opener ‘Triple Threat’, or the fast walking bass of ‘Hustle Bustle’ allowing a fluid situation to develop, Edwards cycling rapidly through modes ratcheting up the energy levels and tempo as Boyd puts his foot down. It’s the pedal point bass that title track ‘Safe and Sound’ then depends on injecting mood and emotion the atmosphere organically transformed. The complex ballad ‘Desdemona’s Tears’ with a bravura Edwards opening statement switches the point of entry and Edwards’ big swell at the beginning and subsequent elegiac lines demonstrate the player’s maturity and manner in which he is able to convey serious moods as well as relatively sunny or exuberant atmospheres elsewhere. The writing here is excellent, a consistent feature of the album (‘Meet You at El Malecón’ earlier melds rhythm and melody beautifully again with a scintillating Afro-Latin dimension). Boyd comes into his own on the toms at the beginning of ‘Mystic Musings’, the longest track of the album clocking in at over seven minutes, where Edwards after the drum solo opening really gets into the Ahmad Jamal zone. ‘South African Sunrise’ has a quality melody Luthert laying back a little for Edwards to further draw out the lovely opening melodic theme but again that strong bass/piano rapport returns on penultimate track ‘Playtime’ with ‘Finishing Touches’ a throwaway nibble with its ‘Poinciana’-like madeleine moment at the end.  
Released on 31 March