CD Review: Blood Red – Tom Vincent Trio

Tom Vincent, Blood Red (Label: Lumbini House)
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CD review by Victoria Nugent

The latest offering from jazz pianist Tom Vincent is a rich album of piano pieces with swing inspired energy that flow cleanly into each other. Vincent’s playing is often accentuated by deliberate discordance between the different instruments featured. At first listen, this seems slightly off-putting but ultimately the unusual compositions ensure that the tracks are main event music, to be listened to with one’s full attention. Drummer Mark Meader delivers skilful performances with panache, shining in dramatic solos and striking underlying beats. Leigh Barkers provides a more subtle performance on the double bass, giving the pieces a more rounded sound. All compositions are by Vincent apart from ‘Well You Needn’t’, written by Thelonious Monk, and ‘Resolution’, written by John Coltrane.

…a richly textured album with complex compositions and skilful instrumentation…

The album kicks off with ‘Fortune’, a bouncy and sometimes discordant number which features rapid-fire improv piano teamed with flashy cymbals. ‘Rich’ has a slightly smoother start, with double bass undercutting smooth piano, before ending with a melee of fast and unconventionally arranged notes.

Title track ‘Blood Red’ is a change of pace, startling the listener to attention with its staccato swing and prominent drums. ‘Left Unsaid’ then takes the tempo back down a notch, teaming high tinkly keys with subtle brushwork on the drums, to create a slightly nostalgic melancholy feel.

‘Well You Needn’t’ starts with a flurry of energy and keeps up the pace throughout the track. It’s all suspenseful drums, and edgy keys with staccato notes that practically leap out at the listener.

‘Brooke’s Blues’ is a more laidback piece, evoking images of a smoky jazz bar, with a truly great climatic build in intensity towards the end, before the track fades out.

‘Wait’ features a bold, if overly long introductory drum solo which goes for over a minute before Vincent introduces subtle keys which scale the range of the keyboard against a still prominent drum backing.

‘Veronika’ is another smoother piece with Vincent’s rippling keys easing the listener into the piece before turning into a more staccato sound with rhythmic drums helping to build the intensity. ‘Stone Woman’ is a slow burning number, with gentle flowing piano and subtle drums creating a quietly melancholy air that wouldn’t be out of place in an elegant ballroom. ‘When We Meet’ rounds the album out with a lively combination of busy instrumentation, switching tempos and beats at an incredible rate, effectively summing up the intensity of the entire album. On the whole, Blood Red is a richly textured album with complex compositions and skilful instrumentation. It isn’t always easy listening, but definitely stands out from the crowd.

On this CD:

Tom Vincent – Piano
Marc Meader – Drums
Leigh Barker – Double Bass