Still Point Of A Turning World was released on CD back in September, 2021 (for review click here). Tuesday 1st March Hampstead Jazz Club, in association with Hampstead Parish Church, hosted the vinyl launch of the same album. The event was a two sides, two set affair with pianist Paul Edis at its heart.
Side one of set one featured the five tracks that make up the A side of the album with the four tracks of side B making up the second side of the first set. All the tracks bar two were written by Paul and the entire first set was a solo piano performance. Paul briefly explained each track to be played and then proceeded to play. I shan’t go into the details of each track (that can be found in the album review), but I can say that hearing the music live is very different to listening a recording. Paul’s playing was poignant, lyrical, measured, spacious, and with touches of humour. The tonal colouring was wonderful, all helped by the acoustics provided in the church setting.
The B side of this performance followed a similar pattern to side A and finished with a beautiful rendition of ‘Plaisir d’armour’ written by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini. As with Side A, the audience withheld their applause until the end of the side, which gave the atmosphere a classical music event feel – something I rather liked – that may have felt unusual for a jazz musician used to hearing applause after a solo within a tune. However, the applause, when it came, was heartfelt, protracted and thoroughly deserved.
After the interval Paul took to the stage again and with him were double bassist Adam King, drummer Matt Home, and the Estilo String Quartet. The Duke Ellington tune ‘Whiskers’ was played by the trio with Matt Home leading with some wonderful drum work. This was a terrific swinging number featuring very good solos from each member of the trio – I particularly enjoyed Adam King on bass. The church acoustics again came into play with the open space helping emphasize the crispness of Matt Home’s drumming.
Next was the premier of four-part suite entitled ‘Awakening’. There were excellent solo and trio playing throughout and the Estlio String Quartet’s contribution was the perfect accompaniment when called on. Paul’s writing for trio plus strings was very well balanced with neither being dominant nor detracting from the other’s lines.
The evening closed out with Horace Silver’s ‘Peace’, with the beauty of the melody emphasized by the addition of the strings played by Estilo. The final number was the most wonderful arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Bemsha Swing’. A simple rhythm was played by Matt Home on drums picked up by first one violin, then viola, the second violin, and finally the cello all playing pizzicato. The trio then took over before the complete ensemble came together in a glorious sounding whole. There were solos from each member of the trio (all played brilliantly) and the tune eventually ended as it began with Matt Home and Estilo: what a number, and arrangement, on which to finish the evening.
Mike and his team at Hampstead Jazz Club should be very pleased with the exceptional evening’s entertainment provided. Particular thanks must go to their sound man Adam who got the balance just right for the setting. This evening will probably go down as one of my all-time favourite live gigs, the setting, the music, and the musicians made this a very special event that will stay with me for a very long time. I spoke to Paul after the concert and said that his follow-up album to Still Point Of A Turning World should be a recording of the evening’s second set; not to do so would, in my opinion, be a crime against extraordinary music and musicianship.