Elliot Galvin is a pianist to get excited about. He has an eclectic style that Jazz listeners will love, but his creativity and emotional range mean there’s something for others not usually attracted to the genre. Elliot’s latest album entitled ‘Modern Times’ is his second with Edition Records (third in total); a record label recently described by 6Music DJ Gilles Peterson as ‘the UK ECM and a bit more…It could be my favourite British Jazz label’.
Despite being called ‘Modern Times’, the record used a decidedly old-school recording technique, being live-mixed and recorded direct to vinyl in one continuous take for each side. This, of course, is Elliot’s quiet protest at an age in which he feels music is ‘sometimes overproduced and treated as a disposable commodity’. It’s his earnest way of encouraging us to sit down and treat the album as an entity.
Also, a conscious decision was to play with only acoustic pianos. Having become, disengaged with acoustic instruments, Elliot saw a solo piano performance from Jason Moran at Montreux, ‘I was so inspired. It was so immediate and human’.
It’s what his own music feels like on this album, quirky melodies and percussion with intrepid leaps into the unknown. Stripped away are the cavernous reverbs and Popcorn Synths. Yet it’s still unmistakably Elliot Galvin. The same musicians accompany him as on previous album ‘The Influencing Machine’: Tom McCredie on Double Bass and Corrie Dick on Drums. Both seem to share Elliot’s sensibilities and vision, underpinning his reveries with great consideration. On opener ‘Ghosts’ Elliot sets off with intent, using a mostly chordal approach he eloquently navigates the incessant bass to create a forbidding groove.
‘Mr Monk’ begins more tentatively, here Elliot provides his own transient bass lines before slipping into heavier, more ominous periods. Finally, comes the jaunty tip of the hat to Thelonious, himself. Tom McCredie prowls in on the edgy ‘Cat and Mouse’, half way through breaking into deranged clapping rhythms which provides more interest and instability. Tom’s distressed wails and sombre bowing is superb on ‘Fountainhead’. Preceded by chaotic avant-garde classical piano playing before Elliot supports in a contrasting impressionist fashion. McCredie’s bowing concludes the stuttering ‘Jackfruit’, in a way reminiscent of the contorted guitar feedback of Jimi Hendrix.
‘Gold Shovel’ is a prickly and forceful blues number with a more vulnerable contemplative motif book-ending the dissonant aggression. It twists and turns like a disobedient child set on defying all structural norms.
The spiritual ‘Into The Dark’ is a calming antidote to the previous track. It’s uplifting yet understated with references to American Gospel. However, it heads into -as its name suggests- something graver, more threatening and dramatic with swelling cymbals and crooked chords. Final track, ‘To The Moon’ begins in an energetic, hurried mood. Notes ring out like urgent Morse code preparing systems for lift-off. It wonderfully demonstrates the speed control the musicians possess, even when all are playing to their fullest.
The album’s compositions are both emotional intelligent and technically proficient, it rewards uninterrupted listening as intended. This trio is a triumphant ambassador for the thriving British Jazz scene.