Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


David Lyttle: Faces

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
The thirty-second cello sortie that kicks off Faces is an arresting opening statement that dashes any preconceptions about what to expect from David Lyttle's third outing as leader. While the acoustic True Story (Lyte Records, 2007) and Questions (Lyte Records, 2010)—the latter a swinging collaboration with guitar wunderkind Andreas Varady—helped establish Lyttle's credentials as a first-rate jazz drummer, Interlude (Lyte Records, 2012) revamped the template by adding hip-hop and soul to the mix. Faces proclaims an even bolder skewing of genres, with New Orleans funk, uber-catchy pop and gospel-tinged soul rubbing shoulders with smoldering jazz improvisation and contemporary urban rhythms and vocals.

In addition to cello and drums, Lyttle also plays keyboards, bass guitar and adds vocals but this is far from a one-man show. Five singers, three rappers and a bevy of woodwind, brass and stringed instruments combine in various ensemble settings, resulting in tunes that are as diverse as they are infectious. The standout guest artist is arguably Joe Lovano, whose mellifluous tenor solo on "Lullaby of the Lost" is as soulful as anything he's previously recorded; rappers Illspokkin and Homecut share vocal duties either side of Lovano on this gently seductive tune.

Lyttle's dancing Nawlin's snare pattern underpins the brief but breezy "The Second Line"; Talib Kweli raps breathlessly on the less salubrious aspects of the music industry on this short, meaty cut. A bouncing piano motif threads its way through "Houdini," a delightful slice of sophisticated pop featuring the highly original singer-songwriter/pianist Duke Special.

Every tune is undoubtedly radio friendly but highly diverse at that: pianist Jason Rebello, John Leighton on organ and Anne Lyttle's vocals on the softly bluesy ballad "Seek" take us to gospel church; Rhea Lyttle and Jean Toussaint's mellow funk owes more to soul disco; Cleveland Watkiss's scatting on the swinging title track draws exuberantly from the bebop tradition and flirts with Bobby McFerrin's idiom at the same time.

Rhea Lyttle and Zimbabwean-born, Drogheda-based rapper Zane form a winning vocal team on the grooving pop tune "Game Boy," with Michael Buckley's sing-song flute improvisation a fleeting bonus. Likewise, singer Natalie Oliveri and rapper Homecut's contrasting vocals make for striking juxtaposition on the equally contemporary-sounding "To Be Free." There' a little of Burt Bacharach's magic about "Perception," sung beautifully by Anne Lyttle, with rich woodwind/brass arrangements of real warmth by Meilana Gillard.

"I wish I was free like jazz" sings Homecut on "To Be Free"; Lyttle pursues the sort of musical freedom that enables him to openly embrace all the music that resonates with him. He hasn't turned his back on jazz, but merely opened himself further to the music encountered on his regular globe-trotting, from Belfast to Brooklyn and from London to Louisiana. Lyttle exhibits the same panache for writing as he exercises with his sticks; with every track a polished gem Faces is potentially the feel-good cross-over album of the year.

Track Listing: Intro; The Second Line; Houdini; Seek; Detour; Faces; Lullaby for the Lost; Game Boy; To Be Free; Perception.

Personnel: David Lyttle: drums; percussion; keyboards; cello; bass; lead vocals (2, 8); Kevin Duffy: bass, guitar (9); Duke Special: vocals (3); Anne Lyttle: vocals (4, 10); Rhea Lyttle: vocals (5, 8); Cleveland Watkiss: vocals (6); Natalie Oliveri: vocals (9); Talib Kweli: rap (2); Illspokkin: rap (7); Homecut: rap (7, 9); Zane: rap (8); Jason Rebello: piano (4); John Leighton: organ (4); Tom Harrison: saxophone (2); Jean Toussaint: saxophone (5); Joe Lovano: saxophone (7); Michael Buckley: flute (8); Meilana Gillard: woodwinds, saxophone, arrangements (10); Jan Lyttle: violin (5); Eoin Walsh: guitar (5).

Title: Faces | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Lyte Records




comments powered by Disqus


Start your ticket shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read School of Fish Album Reviews
School of Fish
By Dan McClenaghan
March 23, 2019
Read Blood Album Reviews
By John Sharpe
March 23, 2019
Read Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley Album Reviews
Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley
By Jerome Wilson
March 23, 2019
Read Hydro 2 Album Reviews
Hydro 2
By Mark Corroto
March 23, 2019
Read Old School Revolution Album Reviews
Old School Revolution
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 23, 2019
Read Cuando Sea Necesario Album Reviews
Cuando Sea Necesario
By Dan McClenaghan
March 22, 2019
Read West 60th Album Reviews
West 60th
By Peter Hoetjes
March 22, 2019