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Pete JUDGE Piano 2
Pete Judge (piano)
rec. 2020, St George's Bristol, UK PJM 002 [40:33]
Pete Judge, Bristol-based composer and pianist, is perhaps better known as an active presence on the British jazz scene as a trumpeter. In that capacity he is involved with a myriad of projects and has worked Europe-wide; principal projects include Get the Blessing, Three Cane Whale and Eyebrow. He’s even lent his chops to Massive Attack, Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull and has worked live with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds amongst many, varied appearances.
Piano 2 is very different. It represents, if you like, the Pastoral Judge, where concision, elements of minimalism and painterly and natural influences saturate a succession of brief but characterful pieces. They are all Judge compositions and the 40-minute set of sixteen was set down in a single day’s recording in the ever-attractive St George’s in Judge’s home town. The song titles give an almost infallible impression of the music’s content. Thus West-running brook, one of the longest morceaux at three-and-a-half minutes, is fresh, crisp and clear. Its poetic influence is the poem by Robert Frost. The plangent chords of Stonecrop and the almost Nymanesque liquidity and romance of The darkening hills are alike most attractive.
If I sense an influence from Angelo Badalamenti in It pains the lips to think of bugles that may be because it put me in mind, albeit briefly, of Michael Wollny – a very different pianist, it must be said – but its quiet melancholy shows the lucid variety Judge summons throughout these pieces. He has the gift of immediacy, no question. There’s incremental warmth in the refinement and delicacy of Cruc and the bipartite pleasures of Brute Angels are there to enjoy. Blake’s The lost traveller's dream under the hill encourages Judge to reflective, contemplative concision and I have to say I prefer this to Gurney’s Oak, a title that promises much but leaves too many question marks hanging in the music.
Judge is back on song in Sprig, a light, deft spring-like piece and in the minimalist melancholia of Purr. He cleaves closer to Nyman again, rather than to the easy-going Einaudi, in Prospect Stile whilst the last track, Song of Rescue, is spiced rather more wholeheartedly than the majority of things here. It has the effect of offering what, in other contexts, might have been the equivalent of mildly dissonant grit.
In any case it brings to a close a richly recorded, charm-filled album that brings poetry and nature painting as primary influences. Judge is a generous performer and an even more generous composer.
Jonathan Woolf Contents
West-running brook [3:36]
The darkening hills [2:44]
It pains the lips to think of bugles [3:00]
Frond three [1:08]
Brute angels [4:04]
The lost traveller's dream under the hill [2:14]
Gurney's oak [2:29]
Red bank [2:16]
Prospect stile [2:36]
Wheatfield with crows [2:39]
Song of rescue [2:33]