Jef Neve ‘One’ (Decca/Universal) 4/5

jef-neveBelgian Jazz pianist Jef Neve is possibly best known for his collaboration with singer José James on the excellent duet album from 2010, ‘For all we know’. However, Neve has longed wanted to test himself out in that most challenging of settings, namely the solo piano. This latest project was put together while touring and thus it was recorded at six separate studios over a thirteen day period. Similar to Duke Ellington, Jef Neve has drawn compositional inspiration from his travels and in this case that has meant writing while in hotels, airport lounges or on a tour bus. The pieces performed here are at once accessible and challenging in parts, but it is the sheer simplicity of style that will appeal to jazz devotees. That said, there is an experimental take on Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Lush Life’ with a crescendo of sounds created on the piano before the pieces settles into the most sedate of numbers while Joni Mitchell’s ‘A case of you’ is treated to a quasi-classical rendition that is reposing in nature. Of the pianist’s originals, the lyrical ‘One leaf, a thousand lives’ impresses most and builds up a head of steam. This is not an album that instantly attracts the listener’s attention, but on repeated listens its subtle delicacy begins to emerge and will leave a lasting and favourable impression.

Tim Stenhouse