Reproduced from Jazz Journal - November 2012
Dave Jones's pianism makes many references to McCoy Tyner's quartal/pentatonic style – familiar territory perhaps, yet like everything else on his 2012 album Resonance, he imbues the familiar with freshness by dint of sheer musicality and melodic gift. It's not "cutting edge" but a set dominated by swinging post-Blue Note tunes that are exemplars of musical logic, integrity and effective variation, aided in no small part by the similarly well sculpted work of saxophonist Lee Goodall. The leavening of hiphop at the close seems entirely of a piece with the album's soulful ethos. Those who enjoyed Mike Mainieri's Steps Ahead outfit will probably find common cause.
Dave Jones, born Briton Ferry, 2 March 1964, comes from a non-playing but music loving family. He says "There was always music in the house, but nobody played an instrument with the exception of one of my sisters who had a few piano lessons. Before giving up she showed me my first few notes on the piano. I got curious, and at the age of about five declared my intention to play 'mad' piano when I grew up.
"After nearly giving up at the age of about 11, I changed to a different and more inspiring piano teacher (Colin Jones – no relation), and rapidly grew to love the piano music of Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy, alongside the orchestral-style keyboard work of Tony Banks of Genesis and Rick Wakeman of Yes.
"As a music student in Cambridge I was fortunate to study with the classical concert pianist Philip Mead, who gave me an awareness of the breadth of the classical music repertoire, and helped me to develop a sound technique. I also became a church organist during that time, but that soon moved to the background once I became interested in jazz piano, thanks largely to the late Lionel Grigson at the Guildhall School of Music. Lionel started me off with chord voicing and improvisation on standards, and got me listening to Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and The Crusaders amongst others. The Guildhall was an inspiring place to be at that time. Through the walls of the practice rooms you'd hear Smokin' Steve Williamson, Cleveland Watkiss and other musicians from the mid 1980s London scenes."
What about the nuts and bolts? How do the
tunes come about?
"The bulk of the material on Resonance, and also on the previous Journeys (2010) and Impetus (2008) albums, is written from knowledge of classical and jazz harmony, and various compositional and arranging techniques. Some of my compositions, e.g. Wexford Tune (Resonance), Hey DC, Funky Thing and Creative Petrol (Journeys), and The Leopard (Impetus), are developed entirely from one, or at the most two related melodic or rhythmic phrases, in the way it might be in a 12-bar blues, or in a Beethoven symphony. Other pieces however, might be more fugal and involve more interplay between different layers of melodic phrases, or have counter melodies such as in The Metro, Welsh Rarebit and Pushkin's Lament (Resonance), and Nathan's Bar (Journeys). Also, a number of my compositions tend to have a coda. However, the use of these techniques doesn't seem to be a conscious part of my process of composing – the end result always seems to come out of one strong hook, whatever the inspiration might be, and whether it be a melodic phrase or rhythmic phrase, or a chain of chord voicings that then seems to quite naturally dictate how the piece develops.
"Although many of my compositions sound relatively straightforward and direct, there is often subtle detail to be found. For instance, this may be evident in the chord changes, or where chord sequences are of an unusual number of bars, or sometimes there are subtle changes between time signatures. A good example of this is 5 To 3 On Friday from the Resonance album, which exhibits all three subtleties. "In terms of the influence of jazz composers on my work, although I don't try to write like them, I particularly admire Wayne Shorter, the late Kenny Kirkland, Chick Corea, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner and Kenny Garrett. I also really like some of Sam Yahel's arrangements of jazz standards for piano trio from his Hometown album."
Jazz Journal - November 2012