Ethan Iverson Trio at Vortex Jazz Club – London Jazz News

Ethan Iverson Trio – with Conor Chaplin and Andreu Pitarch

(Vortex. August 5, 2022. Live review by Jon Turney)

L/R: Andreu Pitarch, Ethan Iverson, Conor Chaplin. Composite image from publicity photos

A rare opportunity to hear the polymath pianist in a small club – one with a Steinway close at hand – was too good to miss on a Friday night. Ethan Iverson program brought him to the UK about a week ago to open the St Endellion Festival in North Cornwall. So this trio concert in London ended, I suppose, a relaxed visit.

He performed material from his remarkable CD Blue Note Every note is true in the United States with the hot duo Larry Grenadier on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums (instead of Jack DeJohnette on the recording). For this evening of two shows at the Vortex Conor Chaplin came in on bass, and the young Barcelona drummer Andreu Pitarch was a last minute replacement for Martin France on drums.

In the second set, we heard some tunes from the CD. The deliberately flashy theme of an unwritten TV show, She won’t forget me, brought enough fireworks to the frontman’s piano to sustain an entire season of drama. And the trio really nailed the ending, so had clearly found time for a rehearsal.

Indeed, they sounded quite at home with Iverson’s always well-crafted music, from the opening technically acceptable, with its slightly Ellingtonian stomp. Conor Chaplin’s bass step was immediately strong enough to support any amount of weight. Pitarch’s mostly straight drumming matched well, and Iverson built a distinctively thoughtful solo. A third original, with another ambiguous and teasing title, It was interesting, preceded by a rich rendering Midnight Towerwhich inspired Iverson’s most monkish theme, God knows, (although the composer did refer to Jason Moran).

Then hell for leather Giant stepa new composition by Iverson Who are you really? with hymn chords that I swear managed to sound interrogative, and an unrehearsed selection to end – that of James P. Johnson Charleston: a moving reminder that Iverson’s enthusiasm for the whole jazz piano tradition dates back 100 years.

A solo piano encore, Killing Me Softly With His Song, rounded things off impeccably. A delightful set to listen to up close and personal, claiming that Iverson’s work sets a sweet spot where careful study informs a playing that still carries emotional weight but is also, like its composition, witty.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. Twitter @jonwturney

LINKS: Buy Every note is true

Live review / photos of the Martin Speake Quartet with Ethan Iverson from 2020

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