VERYAN WESTON piano
JOHN EDWARDS double bass
MARK SANDERS percussion
1 - LONGER PIECE - 35:50
2 - SHORTER PIECE - 10:51
3 - SLIGHTLY LONGER THAN SHORTER PIECE - 14:47
Digital concert recording by VERYAN WESTON
Colchester (Mercury Theatre) 1998 June 24
Total time 61:44
All previously unissued
All of the music of the concert is included unedited, in the order of
All instruments were used without amplification or other electronics.
There are improvisers and there are improvisers. There are ensembles whose members - seemingly oblivious of each other - blast away ad infinitum sticking leech-like to their own agenda, and there are those that listen carefully to what each member is trying to achieve and, by so doing, provide their audiences with thoughtful and challenging music. The trio of Veryan Weston, John Edwards and Mark Sanders represents the second of these two schools. All highly individual players, yet each with a mission to push out further the boundaries of free improvisation, without losing sight of the group aesthetic.
Veryan Weston's playing comes from both within and without the jazz tradition. It has the power and drive that is the hallmark of the jazz musician, but it is laced with the cerebral ethos of the European avant-garde. Employing fierce glissandi and mighty block-chords, Weston never shirks danger. His improvisations leave the listener almost toppling off the edge of the seat.
The music recorded here is fundamentally a co-operative venture, and Weston is joined by two of the most accomplished and original improvisers on the British music scene.
John Edwards has created in the past few years his own highly distinctive sound on his chosen instrument. With furious pizzicato gallops along the full length of the double bass's strings and with sensuous caresses of the bow, he urges or calms his colleagues' invention with glorious effect.
Mark Sanders is without doubt one of the most exciting and gifted percussionists active today. The polyrhythmic variety of his drumming and its apparent nonchalant execution, have ensured his place within the cream of British and European improvising ensembles.
Edwards, Sanders and Weston produce music of great depth, but, above all, it is music full of tremendous excitement. A powerful stimulant: it'll keep you awake at night!
STEVE FORD (1998)
"MERCURY CONCERT is a bewilderingly great release from a quite superb trio. Pianist Weston, who's been around for decades, sadly remains one of the most overlooked and underdocumented London musicians. Edwards and Sanders are both younger, unacclaimed players who are regulars on the London improv circuit. They both shift between post-Incus improv and high-energy free jazz with enviable ease: Edwards plays in the Eddie Prevost Trio with the also underrated Tom Chant (a trio which has in the past also been enlarged to a quartet with the addition of, yes, Veryan Weston). Sanders has a string of CDs to his name, none of which do his idiosyncratic style the fair justice that MERCURY CONCERT does. Both, however, are perhaps best known as Evan Parker's bass player and percussionist of choice (see their trio 2CD on Emanem - the MERCURY CONCERT trio has, in fact, on occasion played with Evan as a variant of his Quartet configuration). With Weston they make a brilliantly agile, supple and centrifugal group: Sanders' playing is richly textural and at times barely percussive, Edwards has an astonishingly responsive and accurate style, and Weston possesses a very delicate touch and incredibly light-fingered speed of articulation. They change instrumental tack so frequently and often so abruptly that the three pieces here resemble dozens of miniatures effortlessly segued into one brilliantly sprawling mosaic. If anything it's Edwards who functions as the core of the group, providing an anchor for Weston and Sanders to launch into acutely-defined showers of sound which with dazzling velocity throw shapes and colours in the air. Together they seems to cover miles of ground, in the process generating an overwhelming flood of ideas, which are invariably expressed with breathtaking fluidity and eloquence. Containing some the most sensitive and intelligent playing I've heard for some time, MERCURY CONCERT is one of '99's absolute finest recordings. Don't be put off by the relatively unheralded status of the players - this is English improvisation at its very best, and is nothing short of an exquisite piece of work."
NICK CAIN - OPPROBRIUM 2001
"This is one of the most exciting free improvisation albums that I've heard in quite some time. Veryan Weston has often appeared with Lol Coxhill and Trevor Watts, while Mark Sanders has recently gigged with Butch Morris and Paul Munmall. John Edwards should soon carve out an equally distinguished reputation, his aggressively bowed gut-strings almost forming half of a percussion team with Sanders.
The disc benefits from an exceptionally fine recording quality, always a boon when hearing music which involves dramatic swoops in dynamic. One moment the trio is delicately picking amongst near-silence, then it'll rear up, pelting into a dense clatter. Weston favours rippling trills and rolling accumulations rather than staccato jabs, aware that his partners have the skin- and string-striking side sewn up. Sanders is the most resourceful, though, creating a constantly-changing coiled-spring tattoo, saving the full weight of his bass drum and tom-toms for the third section's swollen-bruise finale."
MARTIN LONGLEY - GRAMOPHONE 1999
"Recorded without any amplification, this recording shows the empathy and interplay of group improvisation at its best. Weston' piano is the centre here but he manages to subdue the nearly 300 year old traditions that usually swallow up lesser improvisers at the battleship. Here he is fleet, fastfingered and spare at the same time. He doesn't overrun his fellow explorers with ten fingers doing Cecilisms without a musical point being made. Veryan certainly seems at home within the jazz traditions that he hints at as well as the 20th Century piano vernacular but that is not the point here. The group is the thing and making room for group exploration is what makes this so listenable. To that end, much credit goes to Mark Sanders whose percussion is ever so light and inviting. It would be easy for a drummer to take the challenge an bash away or to be king of the volume but he understands being a group player and keeps urging and hustling his fellow players to stay in the moment with him. To this end he urges beautiful and surprising bowing for bassist, John Edwards for example and allows beautiful duets to occur naturally. Edwards has the tough job here as an unamplified string player. It would be easy to get lost in the polyrhythmic flight of his companions but once again, these three understand their own group dynamic and the bass acts as a gravity well to hold sway and guide as well as converse in the upper registers. This is one very organic group construction and the playing revealed within is like eating a fresh fruit. Nothing surprising but everything about it satisfies the taste buds of the most jaded listener as well as slakes the thirst if you like it hot. "
JOEE CONROY - THE IMPROVISER 1999
"This 1998 live date is a superb example of the possibilities of free improvisation by a trio. This music of striking melodic depth, and is by no means simply a piano performance with a supporting cast. As is often ballyhooed but less often delivered in free music, these players are equal, and each contributes a tremendous amount to the music.
Many of Veryan Weston's phrases are breath length, suggesting an influence from the saxophone. His lines are seldom dissonant although he moves freely among tonal centres; for all the percussive edge they can muster, they never lose a strong and glasslike beauty. This beauty is much augmented by the incredible tensile strength of John Edwards' bass, which can move from a percussive Barry Guy-ish attack to the most delicate of singing, ringing, glowing lines - and back again. Along the long trip of Longer Piece he bows behind the most delicate of Weston lines with a rare animation. The sheer power of his playing around the middle of Longer Piece is enough to stand hair on end and get the blood flowing again. Percussionist Mark Sanders, meanwhile, is just as powerful, but his wallop lacks not for dynamic variation and subtlety of placement.
These three pieces are exercises in variety, as each contain tremendous dynamic, rhythmic, and textural variations. Anyone who thinks free improvisation is just an excuse for banging and screaming should sample the infinite and ineffable landscapes of this disc."
ROBERT SPENCER - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 1999
"Edwards and Sanders are one of London's very best rhythm sections, and Veryan Weston one of its most criminally neglected pianists, so this disc is a pretty sure-fire winner before you even get the cellophane off. Anyone who has seen Weston live can testify to his intense concentration, that analytical stare he fixes on his keys or his playing partners as he hits the right notes time and again, or his abstracted, shut-eyed posture, like a chess player thinking two dozen moves ahead.
Weston has something of Borah Bergman about him - that same cool musicality which manifests itself in apparently brutal outpourings of sound. He plays fast and loud - especially on this disc, actually - but never loose. He's as good as any pianist of his generation in this music, and the level of recognition he has outside London really isn't what it should be.
When Edwards and Sanders get together almost nothing can stop them. Sanders' fluidity is just astonishing, and his sense of where to place a beat and how to insinuate a rhythm without resorting to a regular pulse is very special indeed. Edwards, on the other hand, is an extremely flexible player, equally comfortable with rock, pop, funk, jazz and improv. He brings this to bear in his range of approaches -- no precious personal concept for him, just a pragmatic desire to do whatever the music needs moment to moment. Paradoxically, this gives him a fairly recognisable sound, as his woody pizzicato and over-rosined arco surface and dive in the midst of the storm.
All three are great listeners, which helps immensely, and as a group they can hit on ideas with near-simultaneity; they drift together, change course together and turn on a ha'penny when, it seems, no one of them really expects it. This is a really excellent piano trio, full of all the things which make the format continually challenging, and hence it's everything a piano trio ought to be."
RICHARD COCHRANE- MUSINGS - 1999
"Veryan Weston's neither quotes nor approximates genres. He works at an ides then discards it, often unresolved, to work on another. But they're his won ideas, and invariably they're interesting.
This was a quality gig, and the recording is excellent. Edwards and Sanders are as imaginative and inquisitive as Weston, and even during the monumental Longer Piece their concentration never wavers. Shorter Piece contains various attack strategies and, apart from a brief lull near the end, hell-for-leather playing. Slightly Longer than Shorter Piece marries the episodic nature of the former with the forceful obliqueness of the latter. Terrific solo contributions and a remarkable degree of interaction make the MERCURY CONCERT probably the most satisfying trio music I've heard this year."
BRIAN MARLEY - RUBBERNECK 1999
"Weston's restless imagination gives these three long pieces a sense of drama and cohesion that is sometimes absent from more rambling improvisational performances (particularly of this duration). He is, throughout the duration of this entire concert, superb at navigating the territory in between Taylor-like convulsiveness and delicate, hypnotic classicism. Edwards has muscled his way into territory formerly occupied by the likes of Paul Rogers. Based on the strengths of this disc - his effortless pizz, his richly-coloured arco, and his inventive sense of rhythm - Edwards may yet ascend to the lofty place currently inhabited by the likes of Barry Guy and Dominic Duval. And Sanders is a real find as well, tremendously inventive at the kit, with a whole cosmos of sounds at his disposal. The performance as a whole is compelling, inventive and warm: a focused improvisation by a splendidly inventive trio. Definitely recommended."
JASON BIVINS - CADENCE 2000
"One of the factors that makes Weston's style so interesting is that his often highly charged approach is free of Cecil Taylor's influence. Weston absorbs diverse influences from both jazz and the modern classical aesthetic, producing an eclectic blend that delivers a requisite 'kick' interspersed with moments of quietude. His partners, bassist John Edwards and percussionist Mark Sanders, blend nicely, and the unit delivers a highly synchronised product. Weston keeps the three pieces moving with continually developing and shifting fragments, erupting in momentary (and sometimes extended) explosions, while Sanders and Edwards never miss a beat. Digitally recorded live in concert, the sound is surprisingly and pleasantly crisp."
STEVEN LOEWY - ALL-MUSIC GUIDE 2000
"[´Mercury Concert 1998´] approaches as close as you´ll find Weston of later years coming to a conventional jazz piano trio. It is no such thing, of course, although there are moments when one might be listening to a Bill Evans group put through some kind of sonic grid. The interplay between the three is immense, and Weston palpably listens to what his colleagues are doing, moment by moment."
RICHARD COOK & BRIAN MORTON - The Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS, 9th edition, 2008
Return to Emanem home page or go to CD releases or musicians