'The Nightingale and the Rose' CD reviews
Jazzwise reivew by Robert Shore
‘Will Butterworth has produced this charming suite for quartet. The result is a work of great delicacy and tenderness - Butterworth’s classical training is very much in evidence although he knows where to swing out a tune where appropriate too. The piano tends to lead with Nick Pini’s bass casting lovely shadows and the ensemble working itself up into a pretty froth in the likes of ‘Like a shadow she sailed through the grove’, which sustains a nice agitated groove, while ‘The cold crystal moon leaned down to listen’ is a solo for Seb Pipe’s sax’
Jazzmann review by Ian Mann
The album commences with the delicate sound of solo piano, later joined by deliciously rich and rounded arco bass, on the scene setting “No red rose in all my garden". Ibbetson later adds a delicate cymbal touch and Pipe almost subliminal alto sax on this gently lyrical intro.
The music segues almost seamlessly into the second movement, “The Nightingale", a more lively affair featuring Pipe’s airy alto sax melodies, sounding a little like Paul Desmond. Butterworth’s piano arpeggios form the backdrop for Pipe’s sax lines but the pianist later stretches out to solo, his playing becoming more spiky and percussive, and eliciting a suitably animated response from the busy Ibbetson. Meanwhile Pipe’s alto continues to weave its way in and out of the piece, also becoming increasingly garrulous.
“What I sing of, he suffers" begins as a passage of unaccompanied saxophone, with Pipe’s alto presumably representing the voice of the Nightingale. His playing takes on a sharper edge as he’s joined in a fractious dialogue by Butterworth’s insistent, staccato piano motifs. “She swept over the garden like a shadow…." then picks up the baton with a nervous, edgy, flighty energy that involves the whole band with bass and drums offering commentary on the spirited exchanges between bass and piano.
“Philosophy and metaphysics, part 1" is represented by a suitably ruminative passage of solo piano, a reminder of Butterworth’s classical past. “Part 2" is a much more quirky and energetic affair featuring the entire quartet. With its jumpy, staccato rhythms it’s sometimes reminiscent of the music of Thelonious Monk, unconventional but still swinging. The complex contours of the piece provide room for both Pipe and Butterworth to stretch out while Pini and Ibbetson handle the rhythmic challenges with considerable aplomb.
Butterworth’s piano also underpins “And like a shadow she sailed through the grove….", which features a melodic and highly dexterous pizzicato bass solo from the excellent Pini and some neatly energetic, finely detailed drum work from Ibbetson. Butterworth also allows himself to stretch out on one of the album’s most vibrant pieces and Pipe delivers some of his most impassioned playing of the set towards the close.
It’s Pipe’s unaccompanied alto that performs “The cold crystal moon leaned down to listen", his horn again representing the voice of the selfless Nightingale in this musical interpretation of Wilde’s tale of love and sacrifice.
This segues into the closing “A love perfected by death", a melancholic but beautifully lyrical piece paced by Butterworth’s piano and featuring the pure sound of Pipe’s alto as Pini and Ibbetson offer characteristically sympathetic support. As the piece gathers momentum it acquires more of a celebratory, or valedictory, feel as Pipe’s alto begins to soar, before eventually falling away to allow for a gently lyrical pianistic coda.
This time round there’s a greater emphasis on Butterworth as a composer and on the whole he succeeds brilliantly.
By choosing to base his writing around the theme of Wilde’s story he’s been able to give himself a framework around which to structure his compositions, thus providing the music with discipline and focus. Nevertheless there’s still room for the individual musicians to express themselves and the standard of the playing, from a team that Butterworth trusts implicitly, is excellent throughout.
Butterworth has written some memorable themes and it’s not necessary to have read Wilde’s story to appreciate the album.
Bebop Spoken Here review by Lance Liddle
‘..Butterworth has totally captured the essence of Wilde's fantasy. The thrill, the love, the hope, the sadness are all beautifully depicted by the four musicians.
The piano, ever present, expressing the emotion of the peace whilst Pipe's alto soars and sings as surely did the nightingale. Bass and drums add to the depth bringing colour to the rose.
The titles all relate to the story as it unwinds.
1/No red rose in all my garden; 2/The nightingale; 3/What I sing of, he suffers; 4/She swept over the garden like a shadow...; 5/6/ Philosophy and metaphysics, part 1 & part 2; 7/A red rose in my garden; 8/ ...and like a shadow she sailed through the grove; 9/The cold crystal moon leaned down to listen; 10/A love perfected by death.
You may think that this is going to be heavy going but you're wrong. The music floats and stings like a bee, to quote a well-known phrase.
Recommended listening but make sure you read the story as you do so.
5 stars Butterworth.
5 stars Wilde.
Reviews for 'Will Butterworth Trio Live' 2015
Ian mann's (the Jazzmann) review…4stars
'This live album by the Will Butterworth Trio is essential listening for all fans of contemporary piano jazz.'
'A stimulating three way discussion for piano, bass and drums, an encapsulation of all that's good about this exceptional trio'....
'This is delightful, often downright beautiful...thrilling and fiercely swinging'
Bebop Spoken Here review, Lance Liddle
'Another piano trio record - how many more does it take to send one to sleep? Well it must be said that this isn't one of them! Recorded close on three years back at Pizza Express I'm left wondering why I haven't encountered Butterworth until now. It's certainly been my loss.
Modern without being outré, Melodic without being boring, a composer in his own right but not above putting his own stamp on standards such as I Fall in Love Too Easily and Old Folks. One of his originals. The Syndicate, is a blast featuring Ibbetson - the Syndicate's 'Hit Man". On bass, Jensen is on the money - sympathetic contributing both in a supportive role and up front.
Jazzwise review Selwyn Harris
'The Edinburgh born pianist has a solid classical educational background but is an autodidact in terms of jazz. This is his second trio album and was recorded live at the Pizza Express in May 2012. Perhaps for that reason, this is a much livelier affair than the minimalist low-lights debut. On the more uptempo tracks such as 'Blues', Butterworth elegantly shifts between intense Jarrett-like flurries and a bluesy swing evolved from the main theme. But he also knows how to play a ballad: the standard 'I fall in Love Too easily' has all the chlid-like economy, poise and affective charm of a lullaby sung by Chet Baker and is another highlight of a well-balanced set. The Danish, London-based acoustic bassist Henrik Jensen and again impressive young drummer Pete Ibbetson - who turns it on soloing on Butterworth's tango-ish themed 'The Syndicate' - compliments the piano-leader through this engaging piano trio session'
Reviews for ‘Hereafter’ 2011 by The Will Butterworth trio
The Independent review...By Phil Johnson.
"Pianist Butterworth is a right-hand man with a cerebral Bill Evans meets Lennie Tristano style that in the context of the sometimes brash piano-trio sector proves winning.
He opens with a solo introduction, then alternates striking, inner-directed originals with two standards: a subtle reading of Cole Porter's "Everything I Love" and a closing "I'm Through with Love". There's no look-at-me excess, just a slow accretion of intensely worked harmonic invention. One to watch out for."
Jazzwise review by Selwyn Harris…4stars
“His effortless poise and crisp, attractive classically-trained sound is one of his great strengths... Butterworth can capture a sense of atmosphere with well-placed notes and treads artfully between drama and intimacy and romantic sentiment and dry inquisition. Butterworth is a young pianist deserving more attention."
The Jazz UK review by Duncan Heining
"'Hereafter' (Music Chamber) is an elegiac trio set with strong backing from Peter Ibbetson and, variously, Marcus Penrose and Adam King on bass. This is beautifully delicate music from a bright young talent with an ear for melody and lyricism"
Ian mann's (the Jazzmann) review…4stars
"This long awaited trio album is probably Butterworth’s best so far... beautiful melodies... astonishing technique...stretching out joyously... I’d urge everybody reading this to check them out if you can... Will Butterworth is steadily becoming
an increasingly important presence on the UK jazz scene."
Jazz Journal Review by Simon Adams
"Butterworth’s classical background is evident from the star in the solo piano introduction and in his contrapuntal solo opening to Cole Porter’s Everything I Love, but he is also a fine Jazzer, as shown when the piece then blossoms into a harmonically complex swinging trio number. His tone is rich and full. His note placement often knotty and involved, his melodies – five of the eight pieces are his – are strong and sit on ever-changing harmonies that give the trio inspiration and room for improvisation.
Drummer Ibbetson is not only an independent voice but also a handy composer, as shown in his intriguing Sketch for William S. Most importantly, they listen to and spark off each other as each piece develops. So do we need yet another piano trio at the moment? Well, if they are as good as this one, yes we do."
“A precociously talented young modern jazz pianist who plays with spacious and fractious beauty. A rising Brit Jazz piano star" Time out
“A brilliant young pianist… Stunning displays of virtuosity…a remarkable talent" Ian Mann – The Jazz Mann
"[A] Great UK piano prospect…music of considerable effect… a beguiling mix of spacey lyricism and carefully controlled discursiveness" Chris Parker Vortex
Press for the duo with Dylan Howe
"The result is intense, thrilling music-making…this is a bold, fresh adventure that should be widely applauded, and not just in the jazz community." Simon Adams - Jazz Journal
"Fluently virtuosic explorations, consistently absorbing, occasionally downright mesmerizing." Chris Parker - The Vortex
"Thrilling...packed with big gestures and catchy hooks. It's fresh and immediate and engaged the full house" John L Walters - The Guardian
"Some serious jazz damage… The "Introduction" and brief epiphanies thereafter are lovely… Can't be faulted for effort or ambition." Phil Johnson - The Independent
"(WB) is one of the most thrilling musicians you can see in London, or anywhere. Personally it was a salutary lesson for me in what music can do."
Gavin Martin - The Mirror / Family of Rock
'The Nightingale and the Rose' CD reviews