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Label Basho Records
Release Date: 6th April 2009
Title "Brubeck”
Artist Liam Noble
Catalogue Number SRCD 26-2

Give A Little Whistle 8:08
It's A Raggy Waltz 4:42
In Your Own Sweet Way 1 3:09
Sixth Sense 9:47
Cassandra   6:20
Autumn In Washington Square  6:16
Take Five>> 4:29
La Paloma Azul     6:19
Three To Get Ready  5:09
Rising Sun 3:48
Blue Rondo A La Turk  6:51
In Your Own Sweet Way 2 2:30

Liam Noble (Piano), Dave Whitford (Double Bass) Dave Wickins (Drums and Percussion)

"This CD will be an inspiration and a challenge for me to carry on in the avenues that you have opened. I've never gone so far into the unknown as you three but I have opened the door and peeked in. Your CD is an invitation to enter." Dave Brubeck

This is the Liam Noble Trio’s first recording, despite working together for many years, both as a rhythm section and an autonomous group.  Liam has long been known for his highly original piano playing, his in depth knowledge of a number of the great jazz masters including Ellington and Bill Evans.  But his longstanding admiration for Dave Brubeck is clearly demonstrable in this fascinating collection of some of Brubeck’s best known pieces. Dave Brubeck’s comments on the recording reveal Liam’s depth of understanding of this music providing new insights into its interpretation. Basho Records are very proud to launch this new CD which will be the third CD from Liam Noble in our catalogue.


After studying music at Oxford University and the postgraduate course at the Guildhall, Noble became the regular pianist with Stan Sulzmann (in both duo and quartet settings) on John Taylor’s recommendation. He went on to work in the bands of Anita Wardell, Harry Beckett, Tim Whitehead and John Stevens as well as recording and touring with cult minimalist composer Moondog. During this period, he also performed with John Taylor (as part of Stan Sulzmann’s two piano quintet), Kenny Wheeler and Lol Coxhill.

Three years after leaving the Guildhall, Noble recorded the solo piano album “Close Your Eyes”, which featured free improvisations, compositions and interpretations of tunes by (amongst others) Ornette Coleman, Annette Peacock and Richard Rodgers.

In Jazz Journal, Richard Palmer referred to him as “…a writer of considerable idiomatic and emotional range …he knows the instrument’s pantheon from Tatum to Taylor…”

In 1997, he joined the Bobby Wellins Quartet, a band that combines a standard repertoire with a contemporary sense of interaction. A CD, “The Best is Yet to Come” is available on Jazzizit Records. He is also a member of the Christine Tobin Band and the Randy Brecker English Sextet, with whom he recently performed at Cheltenham Festival. A duo project with Paul Clarvis playing music from West Side Story combines well-known material with a “stream of consciousness” improvisatory angle.

In April 2002, a commission from Birmingham Jazz resulted in a song cycle based on Japanese Death Poetry featuring the contrasting voices of Kelsey Michael (vocalist with the High Llammas) and Christine Tobin, with Dave Wickins and Chris Biscoe. Noble plays keyboards and samples throughout, marking a new foray into electronica inspired by artists such as Aphex Twin and Arto Lindsay. He is also a regular member of the Julian Siegel Group and appears on Siegel’s much acclaimed recent album “ Close Up ” (mactwo).

In his new album, "In the Meantime" on Basho Records, Noble’s compositions are highly individual, quirky, sometimes humorous or intensely lyrical and demonstrate his continuing interest in combining unorthodox structural design with improvisation using an ensemble of highly contrasting players. Focusing on the multi-reed front line of Stan Sulzmann and Chris Biscoe (on the rarely heard alto clarinet), the rhythm section features Paul Clarvis and Mick Hutton. Four years of gigging have established a symbiotic relationship between written and improvised material, and an almost orchestral use of colour & space. Influenced by “downtown” New Yorkers such as Wayne Horvitz and Bill Frisell, the compositions also reflect an interest in longer forms derived from studying Stravinsky and other classical composers.

In 2004, following a Cheltenham Festival gig the previous year, Liam recorded the acclaimed “Romance Among The Fishes” on Basho Records with guitarist Phil Robson and the New York rhythm section of Drew Gress and Tom Rainey on bass and drums respectively. Cadence magazine gave a glowing review, saying:

“…his compositions….manage to pack quite a number of striking ideas into the ten titles, of which no two were alike… In this day and age of Jazz retreads, it’s refreshing to encounter a genuinely original voice.

Liam’s working relationship has continued with Tom Rainey in the free improv trio, “Sleepthief” with Ingrid Laubrock, with an album released in September 2008 on Intakt Records. The duo of Laubrock and Noble, “Let’s Call This…” came out on Babel records in 2007.

Other new and upcoming projects include “Too Young To Go Steady”, the new Tim Whitehead recording, a project with Colin Riley and Tim’s Homemade Orchestra featuring Children’s Poet Laureate Michael Rosen, a new Christine Tobin album “Secret Life Of A Girl” and a forthcoming project with Mark Lockheart’s new group.

Liam holds posts as Lecturer in Jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire and Trinity College of Music. He has published 4 volumes of transcriptions of the Bill Evans Trio, and “Jazz Piano; An In Depth Look at the Styles of the Masters”, both published by Hal Leonard.


David was born in Cornwall in 1973 and discovered a passion for music while in secondary school. He started playing the bass guitar aged 13 and quickly became involved in the school band. In addition to this he also played in the award winning Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra and although still very young found him self working in numerous professional situations including music theatre, swing bands, funk and reggae bands.

In 1993 aged 20 David moved to London to study at Middlesex University where he began playing the double bass. It was a very quick transition and David was working professionally on the instrument within months. He graduated from Middlesex with a first class degree. On leaving Middlesex David immersed him self in the London jazz scene establishing himself as one of the most in demand young bass players in the City.

In 1998 David received a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music on their One year Jazz postgraduate diploma from which he graduated with a distinction. He also received an award from the Paul Hamlyn foundation which enabled him to tour and record with collective quartet Neverland.
David has continued forging a reputation for himself on the London scene and as well as regularly performing at the capital's top venues including Ronnie Scott's, The Vortex, The 606 and The Jazz Cafe he has worked extensively in many countries worldwide.

Current projects David is involved in include The Christine Tobin Band who have just recorded a cd due for release this summer. The Liam Noble Trio who also have a forthcoming cd. Dave has just recently joined the trio of ex Sting and Wayne Shorter alumnus Jason Rebelo. He is also a regular member of the Bobby Wellins Qtet.

David has also worked with Marc Copland, Steve Lacy, John Taylor, The BBC Big Band, Kirk Lightsey, Evan Parker, Henry Lowther, Gilad Atzmon, Byron Wallen, Jim Mullen, Clare Teal, Steve Argüelles, Joe Lee Wilson, Stan Sulzmann, Eddie Prevost, Hans Koller, Phil Robson, Anita Wardell, Martin Speake and Trevor Watkiss


Dave Wickins’ approach to drumming is unique. His playing is both spontaneous and disciplined, combining the creativity of free improvisation with strong reference to form and structure. Dave is said to be one of the UK scene's best kept secrets. He is an amazing and mischievous percussionist, manipulating whispering brushes, judiciously applied mallets and breathing cymbals. Dave, who originally studied with Philly Joe Jones, works with Liam Noble, Harry Beckett and Bobby Wellins plays in Kirk Lightsey’s European trio, with Joe Lee Wilson, Martin Speake and with Peter Churchill. He also runs the Glamorgan jazz summer school, now relocated to Trinity College of Music in London.

"Dave Wickins drum kit/sculpture....a marvellous ‘Heath Robinson’ affair, like some curious splicing of Chick Webb, an eccentric conjuror and an inquisitive savant child, Dave’s endlessly inventive approach to percussion was a delight and revelation to experience." Ian Kingsbury at The Bonnington Theatre 2008.

04/04/2009 All About Jazz

That dynamic interplay between Brubeck and Desmond was never more apparent than on the bona fide hit "Take Five," which is even all the more remarkable in the hands of the Liam Noble Trio. On their disc of eponymous interpretations simply entitled Brubeck, Noble on piano propels the iconic jazz track into waters that even the master himself admits he hasn't charted with this material. This 11-song CD is stunning in its complexities squeezed from a trio tackling material written by and for a quartet. The missing counter to Noble, Dave Whitford's double bass and Dave Wickins' drums, is the alto sax of Desmond. This space is only glaring on "It's a Raggy Waltz," but is remarkably filled by Noble and Whitford on the classic "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "La Paloma Azul". A fitting homage filled with abstraction and space in its approach to the apex of Brubeck's commercial catalogue—one that is richer and more complex than some may suspect with just the cursory listen. edit delete


03/04/2009 John Fordham, The Guardian 5 STARS *****

This reappraisal of Dave Brubeck's work is so good that the jazz legend himself declared it "an inspiration and a challenge for me to carry on in the avenues that you have opened". Brubeck was an early inspiration for UK pianist Liam Noble, and here Noble takes a dozen of his classics - including Take Five, It's a Raggy Waltz, and Blue Rondo à la Turk - and gives them drastic makeovers. However, he is unfailingly respectful of the original melodies, even if he sometimes leaves it until the track is nearly over before bringing them in. Noble is a supreme motivic improviser, in the manner of Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins and, latterly, Brad Mehldau - not only in the way he unearths fresh melodies on the fly, but entwines them with earlier ideas in the solo and tell-tale echoes of the theme. He delivers a poignant and eventually audacious In Your Own Sweet Way; and introduces Take Five as a folksy doodle, barely related to the original, then turns it into a churning vamp, ending with the theme. On Blue Rondo, the stabbing chords, cymbal crashes and metallic treble sounds don't give way to the famous tune until the final moments. Bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Dave Wickins are key partners in what amounts to a tour de force. No wonder the octogenarian Brubeck thinks it might help him start all over again. edit delete


01/04/2009 Philip Clark, The Wire

Dave Brubeck gives British pianist Liam Noble the sort of plug that’s a publicist’s wet dream. Not surprisingly, Noble has reproduced it on the flipside of his cover. “This CD will be an inspiration for me,” Brubeck writes. “I’ve never gone so far into the unknown as you three, but I have opened the door and peaked in. Your CD is an invitation to enter.”
And I’d chuck into that equation the thought that Noble – a pianist who crosses from jazz into free improv with ease – hears in Brubeck’s playing, alongside his roots in blues and swing, a free jazz mindset. Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton heard that liberated side of his playing too, and in his album of Brubeck compositions Noble has extracted this benevolent anarchy and exploded it on to an epic canvas.
Back in 1959, the Brubeck Quartet’s version of “Three To Get Ready” was elegant and unflustered. Noble stamps on that mood by flattening the alternating bars of 3/4 and 4/4 that gave the original its poise. He sucks Brubeck’s line into an out of tempo slipstream that bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Dave Wickins perpetually reform with scratchy timbres and concertinaed time: having extrapolated his spiky, fizzling energies, Noble re-introduces fragments of Brubeck’s original under his dense textures.
“Take Five” and “Blue Rondo A La Turk” are like modern catchphrases, but Noble is unfazed. He moves towards “Take Five” twisting its harmonies around 360 degrees, running to catch up with Brubeck’s iconic vamp as it appears on the horizon. There are some niche Brubeck compositions here too: “Sixth Sense” opens up into a monumental blues, while he catchy “Cassandra” features Wickins’s “Baby Dodds meets Tony Oxley” solo. edit delete


20/02/2009 Al Brownlee, Manchester Evening News ****

In a project that makes solid commercial and artistic sense, pianist Liam Noble here explores the legacy of Dave Brubeck. He has thoroughly absorbed Brubeck’s mischief, exuberance, unsquare sense of rhythm and criss-cross counterpoint. Give A Little Whistle and It’s A Raggy Waltz capture the proper exultant spirit.
But Noble is a creative musician, and imitation is not an option. So Take Five slips into its famous theme from an unlikely angle and Blue Rondo A La Turk emerges from fragments and is gone the moment it becomes recognisable.
‘Further out’ indeed, but the sleeve carries a nice endorsement from Brubeck himself. The two-Dave rhythm team of Whitford and Wickens acquit themselves with distinction.

04/02/2009 Times Online, Alyn Shipton ****

Liam Noble at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Now aged 88, Dave Brubeck is one of the iconic figures in jazz, although with the exception of a couple of his compositions his vast repertoire remains largely unexplored by any pianist but himself. That has now changed. Leading a trio capable of tackling anything from free improvisation to tightly swinging four (or five or three) to the bar, the British pianist Liam Noble has come up with a highly creative approach that shines the spotlight on several previously unnoticed twists and turns of the old master's music.

Brubeck has taken a close interest, saying of Noble's forthcoming album, “I've never gone as far into the unknown as you three, but I have opened the door and peeked in. Your CD is an invitation to enter.” I suspect that Brubeck would have been even more impressed had he been in Birmingham to hear the trio launch the live version of its interpretations.

Noble's own credentials as a pianist make him an ideal candidate to explore Brubeck's music. In the deconstruction of Give a Little Whistle (loosely based on the Dave Digs Disney album) he took fragments of the melody and coaxed them into darting right-hand runs, inverted them into left-hand chordal clusters, and worried a remaining right-hand phrase like a terrier with a rag before dashing into a free-flowing solo over conventionally swinging bass and drums.

He is helped by the consistently inventive drumming of Dave Wickins, whose lovely old drum kit with blocks, chimes, and bells gave him a rich tonal palette for a congenial musical conversation with Noble. The old favourites Take Five and Blue Rondo were cunningly placed late in the set, but by then we'd travelled the lesser-known Japanese pathways of Rising Sun, complete with unorthodox percussion from Wickins, and fallen in with the Mexican lilt of La Paloma Azul, underpinned by Dave Whitford's mesmeric bass. Noble's explorations were never less than interesting and usually fascinating - a good excuse to pull the original albums off the shelf and see what other gems have been inadvertently overlooked.

03/02/2009 Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post

Pianist Liam Noble wasn’t exactly playing to a home crowd but he has a lot of local support, especially from the Birmingham Conservatoire students he teaches.

And aren’t they a lucky lot? Not only are Noble’s consummate skills as a jazz pianist clearly shown by this current trio project, but so is his thorough research of its subject matter: the music of Dave Brubeck.

He has a new CD awaiting release in April and Saturday’s concert began as it does, with Give A Little Whistle, the Pinocchio tune covered by Brubeck in an album of Disney songs.

Noble may be a familiar face in Birmingham, bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Dave Wickins are less so: the former fulfilled the expectations of so many modern bassists by being the solid central fulcrum about which wild things can spin, the latter was almost exhaustingly busy on a marvellously archaic kit and loads of added toys.

The three men worked their way through familiar Brubeck pieces, including It’s A Raggy Waltz, Three To Get Ready, Blue Rondo A La Turk and Paul Desmond’s Take Five, as well as lesser known tunes like Autumn In Washington Square and the Japanese-tinged Rising Sun.

Noble is the right man to play Brubeck – neither seems either able or willing to play a soppy chord or a sentimental line, even though Dave wrote the very pretty In Your Own Sweet Way and Liam played it (once solo and with the band as an encore) beautifully.

A crucial difference for me is that I have always found Brubeck’s playing a little splashy of tone and hard of touch, whereas Noble’s more exacting articulation is much easier to listen to while losing none of the excitement.