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New Irish Jazz - David Lyttle: An Appreciation

Aug 19

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8/19/2008  RssIcon

Last weekend, I spent all my free time listening to my collection of jazz CDs, newly transferred to a recently purchased i-pod and speakers and on Sunday evening at 7pm I decided I wanted a taste of the live stuff so I checked the internet to see if anything was on at JJ Smyths, and yes there was, the David Lyttle 3 featuring Soweto Kinch and Michael Janisch. So off in my car I went...

David Lyttle is, at 23, already a force to be reckoned with in New Irish Jazz. The list of musicians that this gifted pecussionist , composer and band leader has played with reads like a whos who of the music; Louis Stewart, Michael Buckley, Ronan Guilfoyle and Myles Drennan. Lyttle was accompanied for this live date by the wonderful bassist Michael Janisch and Soweto Kinch who is the recipient of two MOBOs, three BBC jazz awards and a Mercury nomination.

I remember once listening to an interview with the late Benny Green who was asked to define jazz in one word. His answer escapes me now but if I was to be asked the same question, my answer would be, 'feeling'. All of the jazz artists I love and admire, such as Charlie Mingus, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Louis Stewart, Brad Meldhu and Chet Baker play with a tremendous depth of feeling and, last Sunday, Lyttle and his group played with that same feeling, notably on Lyttle's composition in memory of his late father titled simply, 'Father'.

It is tempting to write about these three musicians separately but that would imply that they did not gel as a group when, in fact, they appeared at all times both as one and distinct, three in one and one in three, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw. The setting also played a role in the evening. JJ Smyths is to Dublin what Ronnie Scotts is to London and the Village Vangard is to New York and, as noted by Soweto Kinch during the second set, it has a wonderful, warm acoustic that suited the fluid, masterly, mellow, hot, spiritual playing of Lyttle and his cohorts.

The group displayed a wry sense of humour, particularly when they did an freestyle on the name Dublin, asking the audience for words which began with the letters contained therein to which the audience responded; Drew (after the late Ronnie Drew), Urban, Bollocks, Lovely, Inspector (?) and Naughty, following it up with a lovely version of John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps', played with a magician's flourish before departing the stage.

I spent a Sunday evening in the company of David Lyttle and his group due to a spur of the moment decision and ended up lost in music.

Photo Credit: David Lyttle © John Soffe.

David Lyttle - Official Website

David Lyttle @

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