Labels > Cam Jazz > Tom Hewson > Essence

Tom Hewson


Cam Jazz CAMJ 7912-5

8052405142672 - Essence - CD

Artists :
Tom Hewson ( Piano )
Release date
Oct 13, 2017

Tom Hewson is a piano player whose sensitivity to music could be labeled as Impressionism-oriented, with harmony delivering extremely unique and evocative moods. British-born, winner of the Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition in 2014, for this second Cd on CAM JAZZ, recorded in piano solo mode in Vienna, Hewson wrote eight of the eleven tracks that embark on a course conceived to conjure up images, feelings, unexpected thoughts, sweet throbs and a truly rapt enchantment by skillfully playing with harmonic imagination and intentionally sidestepping certain, finished, predictable tone sequences. He’d rather fly in mid-air, even when his hands are becoming more assertive on the keyboard, and never be ethereal even as the music lightens up.  Always clearly perceptible, the melody floats, transfigured within a smooth harmonic structure, by means of never-ending changes of color, continual transpositions through different pitches and an on-going exploration of timbre.  Tom Hewson’s stylistic hallmark is an endless enchantment that may be cheering, surreal, vibrant or mythical. His forceful personality also clearly comes through in the three tracks by Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and Charles Mingus. This is Jazz reborn and reinvented that opens yet one more path to a new destination.

Recorded in Wiener Neustadt on 18 November 2016 at L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik
Recording engineer Stefano Amerio

Photos by Elisa Caldana

Liner notes by Brian Morton


Tom Hewson: “Essence”

Dedicato alla memoria di John Taylor, “Essence” è il lavoro in solo che vede protagonista Tom Hewson, per l’occasione ripreso nel novembre 2016 presso la fabbrica di pianoforti austriaca L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik, di Wiener Neustadt. Si tratta di un album dalle forti connotazioni di intimità espressiva, derivate dalla profonda sensibilità estetica di Hewson, il quale unisce in un unico lieve, ma deciso, tratto melodico originali e riletture, tra le quali Goodbye Pork Pie Hat di Charles Mingus. In filigrana affiora un continuo senso di equilibrio, tra movenze che rimandano alla tradizione classica e altre che flirtano con l’idea di jazz, qui intesa come un’alternanza di forme in divenire. La registrazione e il mixing sono curati da Stefano Amerio di Artesuono.

8/12/2017 strategieoblique.blogspot.itRoberto Paviglianiti
Tom Hewson Essence - 3.5 stars

Hewson has taken on the challenge of the solo piano album and succeeded – for the second time.
Tom Hewson, originally from Kent and a graduate of New College in Oxford and of Trinity Laban in London is a young pianist and composer who was mentored by the late, great John Taylor. It was through the Taylor connection that Hewson came to the Italian label Cam Jazz with this new solo piano recording, “Essence”, representing his second release for the company. Hewson’s début for Cam Jazz was the 2015 trio album “Treehouse”, an excellent recording that also featured the talents of British musicians Lewis Wright (vibraphone) and Calum Gourlay (double bass). My review of that album can be read here ( Hewson has also led a number of other projects including a quintet (with George Crowley - sax, Nick Malcolm - trumpet, Ferg Ireland - bass, James Maddren - drums) and the electric trio Identity Parade (Alam Nathoo - sax, Pete Ibbetson – drums). He has also collaborated in a duo with vocalist and songwriter Fini Bearman. Others with whom he has worked include composer Issie Barrett, guitarist Ant Law, saxophonists Mark Lockheart and Paul Riley, vocalists Nicky Schrire and Sylwia Bialas and drummers Tim Giles and Asaf Sirkis. In 2012 Hewson released his first album of solo piano music, a collection of original compositions titled “Slightly Peculiar” that attracted a considerable amount of critical acclaim. Two years later he was awarded first prize at the 2014 Nottingham International Jazz Piano competition. A duo performance with Bearman in Vienna brought Hewson to the attention of the Bosendorfer company and he was invited to their factory in Wiener Neustdadt to try out the new 280 VC Concert Grand, the instrument on which the music of “Essence” was recorded. CAM Jazz then suggested the possibility of a solo album and with the blessing of the record label and the piano manufacturer Hewson spent three days at the factory with the CAM Jazz production team during which he recorded the eleven pieces that make up “Essence”. The album was subsequently mixed at Artesuono Recording Studios in Italy. Given the circumstances of its recording on one of the best pianos in the world and with mixing taking place at Italy’s most renowned studio it comes as no surprise to discover that the recorded sound on “Essence” is exquisite. It’s the perfect setting for Hewson, whose classically honed lightness of touch is frequently reminiscent of that of his one time mentor Taylor. The liner notes to “Treehouse” made reference to Hewson’s influences, among them classical composers such as Ravel and Debussy plus jazz figures such as Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Jimmy Guiffre and Dave Holland. The press release for “Treehouse” also cited Hewson acknowledging the influence of jazz pianists ranging from Oscar Peterson through Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk to Paul Bley. Brian Morton’s scholarly liner notes add context to the music to be heard on “Essence”, the programme comprising of eight Hewson originals plus pieces from the pens of John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler and Charles Mingus. The album commences with the Hewson original “Constellations”, the delicate opening passage perfectly encapsulating the twinkling of the firmament in the clear night sky. But Hewson is about more than mere prettiness and his musical universe continues to expand, his harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness taking the music into fresh new worlds. Yet Hewson’s music remains thoroughly melodic and engaging at all times, his playing sophisticated but undemonstrative. He is a musician whose playing always serves the music. Despite its ‘chamber jazz’ instrumentation “Treehouse” was a surprisingly vibrant and rhythmic record, thanks in no small part to Hewson’s inventive work with his left hand. These qualities are again apparent on the lively and energetic “Major Malfunction” with its choppy, syncopated rhythms. It’s more obviously a ‘jazz’ composition than some of its companions, the majority of which are more closely rooted in the European classical tradition. Following the jagged exuberance of “Major Malfunction” the melancholy lyricism of “Consolation” represents an effective contrast as Hewson re-introduces his classical leanings on a thoughtful Kenny Wheeler ballad that also possesses something of the feel of a jazz standard. “A False Step” combines a flowing melody with a syncopated rhythm in a piece that neatly encapsulates Hewson’s approach. The pianist gets right inside the architecture of Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Hat” while retaining all the beauty, lyricism and gravitas of a piece written as an elegy to the great saxophonist Lester Young. The self penned title track, one of the lengthiest pieces on the album, finds Hewson touching all his bases in a piece embracing a gentle, flowing lyricism before bursting into vibrant, joyous life on a piece rich in dynamic contrast and rhythmic invention but retaining its focus on strong melody. Aptly titled it captures the very “Essence” of Hewson’s music. The elegant “Processional” features peals of melody above a slowly rolling left hand rhythm while “Dare I” is a lively study in counterpoint with a jagged, almost ragtime feel. There’s another change of mood and pace with the dark, sparse, almost glacially slow “Koyasan” but “Where A Stream Leads” is as flowingly lyrical as its title suggests and is quite delightful. And just like a stream it meanders to some beautiful locations along its course. Appropriately the album concludes with a homage to John Taylor with Hewson reverentially performing a beautiful version of JT’s composition “Summer (Phases)”. If he could have heard “Essence” Taylor would have been proud of his protégé. The great man would have appreciated not only Hewson’s technique but also the intelligence, imagination and very human warmth that imbues this recording. Hewson has taken on the challenge of the solo piano album and succeeded – for the second time.

9/11/2017thejazzmann.comIan Mann
Tom Hewson – Essence

Tom Hewson wordt al jaren één van de grote Britse pianotalenten genoemd. En met reden. Met zijn fabelachtige techniek en zijn emotievolle manier van spelen heeft hij al menig zaal in vervoering gebracht. Essence, zijn derde album, is wederom een prachtig album geworden. Zijn vloeiende spel, waarin hij moeiteloos zijn klassieke achtergrond en een fijne diversiteit in jazzstijlen blootlegt, vindt wederom een weg in composities met een fraaie diversiteit. Voor Essence schreef hij zelf acht van de elf twaalf composities en ijzersterke interpretaties van Consolation van Kenny Wheeler, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat van Charles Mingus en Summer (Phases) van John Taylor (zijn oude mentor) vervolmaken het album. Waar zijn vorige album Treehouse werd opgenomen in trio-vorm met Lewis Wright en Calum Gourlay is Essence net als zijn debuut Slightly Peculiar (2012) een echte solo plaat. In dit geval zelfs Hewson achter een prachtig klinkende Bösendorfer. Hij kon het album opnemen in de originele Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik in Wenen en had de best klinkende Bösendorfer ter beschikking. In de handen van de jonge Hewson sprankelen de composities van de kwaliteit. Hewson is een natuurtalent die met zijn fenomenale spel de composities steeds precies naar de juiste emotie weet te duwen. Van albumopener Constellations tot Summer (Phases) heeft hij een klankpallet voor handen die aangrijpt, ontroerd en verbaast. Zijn spel is zeldzaam rijk en levendig maar in alles weet hij de juiste nuance te vinden. Essence is een reden Tom Hewson nu echt aan te wijzen als de grote ‘coming man’ in de jazz. Dat zijn thuisland momenteel alleen maar groot talent voorbrengt mag zo langzamerhand wel heel erg duidelijk zijn maar je blijft je er toch ook steeds over verbazen. Essence is wederom een prachtig visitekaartje van wat Britse jazz te brengen heeft.

20/10/2017 Dick Hovenga
Tom Hewson ‘Essence’

A new name and a promising future ahead if this solo outing recorded in Vienna is anything to go by. Already the recipient of the 2014 Nottingham Jazz Piano competition award, Hewson has been signed to piano and otherwise esoteric Italian jazz label Cam Jazz on which the likes of Enrico Pieranunzi. Kenny Wheeler and the sadly departed John Taylor have frequently recorded and that is a non-négligeable feat in itself. In fact, Tom Hewson and his regular band were scheduled to perform a concert with the Mancunian pianist, but his passing deprived them of that opportunity. As a homage, Hewson interprets, ‘Summer phases’, and it is the flowing romanticism of this reading that is so effectively conveyed. All but three pieces are originals and of these, the lovely riff that he creates with himself on ‘Major Malfunction’ hints at Bill Evans among his coterie of preferred pianists. At times the approach is distinctly bleak as on ‘Koyasan’, and the avant-garde is touched upon, albeit within structured limits, on ‘Constellations’. Of the other two standards on offer, it is the stripped down version of Mingus’ ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ that really comes to life and the pure essence of the composition is retained. This writer would like to hear Tom Hewson in his more natural setting of a trio, but even there nothing is quite conventional, with a drummer less trio comprising bass and vibraphone. Sleeve notes in English and Italian are by BBC radio 3 reviewer and jazz journalist Brian Morton.

14/10/2017ukvibe.orgTim Stenhouse
Tom HEWSON: «Essence»

Ce disque se termine par l’interprétation d’une composition de John Taylor, le pianiste britannique tant regretté. On comprend à l’écoute de ce disque que Tom Hewson, lui aussi britannique, est également proche de cette esthétique « impressionniste » et poétique que cultivait J. Taylor. En enregistrant en solo à Vienne (Autriche) sur un magnifique piano chez Bösendorfer (son second album solo pour Camjazz), Tom Hewson s’impose comme un musicien sensible et inspiré possédant une technique très aboutie. Est-ce assez pour faire la différence parmi tout les excellents pianistes de notre temps ?

6/10/2017culturejazz.frThierry Giard
Tom Hewson, Essence

Un grand disque de piano jazz peut s’écouter comme un récital de l’ère romantique : le même recueillement à l’abord garantira la même félicité, si impérieuse qu’il sera comme douloureux de s’en extraire une fois le programme exécuté. Ainsi peut se résumer l’expérience d’Essence, album si libre qu’il ne cite brièvement Mingus ou Coltrane que pour s’échapper sur de magnifiques traverses où Schumann pourrait jouer à quatre mains avec Bill Evans. Tom Hewson y fait montre d’une musicalité inépuisable, souriante, confiante. Disque indispensable donc, ne serait-ce que parce qu’il nous rappelle que le jazz peut tout. A paraître le 13 octobre.

6/10/2017lesinrocks.comLouis-Julien Nicolaou
Tom Hewson Essence - 4 stars

The ex-Trinity Laban, British jazz pianist Tom Hewson follows in the footsteps of both his mentor, the late great jazz pianist John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler in his ongoing relationship with the historic Italian CAM JAZZ record company. This is his second album for the label following 2015's Treehouse, a trio formed five years ago with bassist Calum Gourlay and vibraphonist Lewis Wright that formed part of a CAM Jazz Presents series showcasing upcoming artists. Essence though demonstrates he's outgrown the 'new artist' tag. This is a mature and invigorating solo piano set in which, besides mostly originals, Hewson pays homage to JT with a version of 'Summer' from his CAM album Phases that couldn't be considered at all slavish. His mentor's enigmatic and poetic, reflective qualities contrast with Hewson's more extroverted, full-bloodied harmonic pianisms, that nevertheless reveal intriguing nuances. Hewson's tribute to Taylor's erstwhile colleague Kenny Wheeler is a version of the trumpet-composer's Bill Evans-like 'Consolation' and it makes for a gripping four minutes or so. For his original composition, Hewson's solid percussive anchorage and fluid classical music piano orchestrations are sometimes close in spirit to Gwilym Simcock's work on solo piano,. Elsewhere the exhilarating 'Major Malfunction' with a bluesy funk groove that seems to cross Charles Lloyd-ear Keith Jarrett with Abdullah Ibrahim, contrasts with the spatial minimalism of 'Koyasan; elsewhere Hewson's flintily romantic theme on the title-track recalls Bill Evans. Solo piano jazz is quite an undertaking and heightened audience expectations are par for the course. But Hewson on Essence shows he's entirely up to the task.

7/8/2017Jazzwise MagazineSelwyn Harris