Jef Neve ONE, marlbank Review

Jef Neve ONE, marlbank Review


With an ornate, highly elaborate improvising style that joins the dots between the otherwise disparate approaches of McCoy Tyner and Keith Jarrett while also drawing heavily on the traditions of the Romantic-era classical composers, earlier albums of Neve’s such as 2007’s Nobody is Illegal – particularly on a track such as the extraordinary ‘Nothing But A Casablanca Turtle Slide-Show Dinner’ with its baroque chamber exuberance somehow in the mind’s eye of an improviser who knows his post-Beatles pop and jazz culture as much as he does classical music – made it clear that a big fully formed new talent had landed in our midst.

Neve is up there with the best new generation European jazz pianists (in the same bracket as players such as Michael Wollny, Gwilym Simcock, Iiro Rantala, and Stefano Bollani) at ease in classical and contemporary jazz contexts, his signature style entertaining a strong contrapuntal dimension, vaultingly exuberant at times but crucially also capable of huge tenderness and improvisational clarity.

While mostly a solo piano album, although ‘Flying to Diani Beach’ towards the end has added brass, One is a little more restrained and of course much more intimate (this scintillating track a notable bravura exception) than some of his earlier work, recorded during a marathon 13 days in a variety of European studios including La Chapelle and Blue Tree in Belgium and at Abbey Road in London, and includes Neve’s own compositions and fine versions of Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Lush Life’ – a standard the pianist performed with singer José James on 2010’s For All We Know – and Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You.’ Neve’s reputation as a top class improviser can only accelerate as a result of this excellent album. 

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