Paul Clarvis and Liam Noble ‘Starry Starry Night’ (Village Life) 4/5

paul-clarvis-liam-nobleThis is a highly inventive duet between pianist Liam Noble and drummer Paul Clarvis and one that stands out from the solo, trio or quartet formats normally associated with the piano. The former musician is a well-respected pianist on the UK jazz scene and has accompanied among others vocalists Christine Tobin and Anita Wardell. On this pared down, intimate recording, the pair of instrumentalists cover an eclectic range of repertoire from the great American songbook through ragtime and on to more contemporary singer-songwriter territory that takes in Don McLean, Paul Simon and even Gillian Welch. That the apparently disparate pieces come together into a cohesive whole is testimony to the undoubted talent of Clarvis and Noble. Standards are sometimes taken at a decidely quicker tempo than per usual as on ‘Shadow of your smile’ with the pair trading off one another lick and the stripped down instrumentation allows the underlying melody to shine through. 
Pianist Noble has taken in most of the modern jazz influences from Bill Evans and Monk to Jarrett, but on the delicious take of Simon’s ‘So long, Frank Wright’ plays very much in the vein of Brad Mehldau. Matters are concluded by a minimalist take on Moondog’s ‘Paris’ with Clarvis excelling on sticks. A fine collaboration and one that indicates that good things do come in small offerings.

Tim Stenhouse