Yetii are a piano led trio with compositions and arrangements by pianist Alex Veitch. Alex moved to Bristol 5 years ago after graduating from the Guildhall Masters program. He has since held a bimonthly residency upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s and plays prolifically as a side musician in Bristol in no less than 5 regular outfits. Ashley John Long (bass) takes the low notes. He is a virtuoso player, well versed in extended techniques, free improvisation and chamber music, and a current lecturer at Cardiff University. Alex Goodyear is on drums: something of a prodigy from Royal Welsh, his infamous monthly gig listings keep him incredibly busy outside of Yetii. Side musician credits for the band as a whole span John Law (both Goodyear and Long have had their stint with him), MADLY, Keith Tippett, Simon Spillett and Nigel Price. The Greenbank and Yetii are something of a sanctuary to these musicians: a place where the only priority is musical expression in whatever form that takes.
The opening track, and the first of the five tunes written by Alex Veitch, is ‘Spring’, which starts with the piano introducing the melody before the bass of Ashley John Long adds his own, very well played melodic line. The tune is lyrically pastoral in style and I very much like the way the bass and piano interact. The feel of the piece changes slightly at the mid-point: there is a shift in energy levels but without sacrificing of the lyricism of the tune’s opening before it all settles back to the close.
‘Enough’ has a catchy opening piano led motif with the bass sat slightly back and rippling drum patterns from Alex Goodyear. There is more light and shade in this number than the opener and the variations in tempo, pitch and volume make for a most interesting number. The following track ‘Asking’ is, for me, the standout number on the album. The musicians probe, tentatively at times, the melodic line as if getting a feel for it. The notes not played is what makes this tune standout, that space for the played tones to take shape and breathe. As the tune progresses the players become more confident sounding, taking the melody where it feels right and letting it express itself. The tune closes a little like it started as if the musicians are reminding themselves and the listener where they came from.
‘Summer’ (see video at the end of this post) starts with a terrific bass solo from Ashley John Long who makes good use of the length of the instrument’s fret board. Alex Veitch joins in at the piano (as does what sounded like a female cough – off key as well). The tempo and feel of this number suggests a long hot summer, languid but still most enjoyable. ‘Grounded’ is just that, thoroughly grounded in the playing of Alex Veitch who opens with purpose, strength and a sense of direction. I am still not sure that this carried through to the end of the number and I am also not sure that the drumming of Alex Goodyear felt right but I unable to specifically identify why.
The final number of the album is the only one not penned by Alex Veitch. ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ is a great Carole King, Gerry Goffin number but I have to say that Alex’s arrangement is excellent. The King/Goffin melody is clearly identifiable but Alex really has turned it into something refreshingly different but at the same time comfortingly familiar and a great way to bring the album to a close.
I very much enjoyed this classic piano jazz trio and believe this album to be a strong introduction to the band. The musicians play very well as an ensemble but also shine on the solo sections. Alec Veitch is clearly a talented composer capable of writing beautiful, thoughtful and emotive slower tempo melodies but I would be very interested to hear if he can open up a little and introduce a more dynamic approach to his music but make no mistake this is a very good album of musical clarity and expression. I hope at some point to catch this outfit at a live event and hear for myself this wonderful music and feel the energy that can only really be experienced in a venue with the musicians playing from the stage.
Musicians: Alex Veitch – piano; Ashley John Long – bass; Alex Goodyear – drums.
Tracklist: 1. Spring. 2. Enough. 3. Asking. 4. Summer. 5. Grounded. 6. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.
Tracks 1-5 composed by Alex Veitch, track 6 composed by Carole King and Gerry Goffin