Dave Stapleton Quintet ‘Between the Lines’ (Edition) 4/5

Pianist Dave Stapleton has on this third album weaved an intoxcating mix of post-bop and avant garde influences into a cohesive project that combines melodic compositions and yet is challenging in equal measure. He excels on ballads such as ‘Dry white’ which illustrates the maturity of the band and has something of a mid-1960s Blue Note feel to it (the album cover itself surely is inspired by the inconic covers of the legendary label). Indeed the classical romanticism of Ravel allied with early 1970s Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett are clearly major inspirations for Stapleton while saxophonist Ben Waghorn seems to a devotee of Wayne Shorter from his Miles quintet and Blue Note tenures. In contrast, ‘Socks first’ is a piece that takes a leaf out of McCoy Tyner’s modal innovations and even hints at a Spanish influences while ‘Doc Lightyear’ takes the quintet into altogether different territory with New Orleans and even freer elements evident. Even a bop tribute on ‘Wig wag’ transforms itself part way through into something stylistically more leftfield. The extensive airing of ballads and all self-penned compositions is a refreshing change and this is certainly in general a cut above the usual session and bodes well for the future. In particular one should applaud the extent to which Dave Stapleton at times plays a supportive role to enhance the overall quintet sound. Definitely a group to watch out for.

Tim Stenhouse