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We asked pianist Ivo Neame to put together a playlist of the tracks that have inspired him and shaped his own approach to the piano.

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Over the past decade, Ivo has earned himself a reputation as one of the key pianists of his generation in Europe. From his effervescent pianistics with two of the most significant jazz acts of recent times, Phronesis and Marius Neset, to his more lyrical approach with the great Julian Argüelles not to forget his own bands, Ivo Neame is the real deal. 

Don’t miss Ivo Neame and his quartet live at the Jazz Café, London on 30th May alongside Kneebody. TICKETS

Hear Ivo’s most recent work on Moksha, We Are All and Tonadas

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I’ve tried to avoid piano trios as much as possible! :-). The only piano trios featured on this list are with Ahmad Jamal, Duke Ellington and Lennie Tristano! Pianists often sound best as sidemen anyway – so much of the role of the instrument is the comping and interaction in the ensemble as well as the more exposed moments. The interesting one for me is Keith Jarrett playing with Kenny Wheeler. This session is notorious for the bad energy that Jarrett brought into the studio. Apparently, he refused point blank to play a lot of Kenny’s tunes because he thought they sucked – on this tune Smatter you can hear him start his solo before Kenny has even finished! Check it out at 2:42 – that sounds like a false start to Jarrett’s solo to me.

3 tracks to listen out for:

Kuru/Speak Like a Child – Herbie Hancock. Proof if it were needed that Herbie only needs one chord and he will take the music out to Mars. I remember I had no choice but to learn this solo when I first heard it – one of the all-time best improvised phrases at 0:38! Herbie and Jaco play so well together on this too – there’s so much musical empathy going on. 

What is This Thing Called Love – Brad Mehldau. For me, some of Brad’s best recordings were made in the 90s – the comping on this record behind Konitz is the reason I like jazz; there’s no other music that incorporates spontaneous unscripted musical dialogue between musicians. Brad also really developed and incorporated the left hand more than any other pianist before him. There is such unswerving intention and clarity when he plays; it’s also a measure of his contribution to music that so many pianists try to sound like him.

Noche de Ronda – Gonzalo Rubalcaba. The way Gonzalo plays the bridge of this song moves me every time I listen to it. It’s nothing flashy – just heart-wrenchingly beautiful. He harmonises it differently every time and it sounds totally improvised and off-the-cuff to me.

Pianist – Track (Artist)

Ahmad Jamal – But Not for Me
Thelonious Monk – Trinkle Tinkle
Egberto Gismonti – Loro
Cecil Taylor – Bulbs (Gil Evans)
Brad Mehldau – What is This Thing Called Love (Lee Konitz)
Django Bates – Stages I, II, III (Sidsel Endresen)
Herbie Hancock – Kuru/Speak Like a Child (Jaco Pastorius)
Keith Jarrett – Smatter (Kenny Wheeler)
John Taylor – Bittersweet (Charlie Haden)
Chick Corea – Con Alma (Stan Getz). Incorrectly credited as Bill Evans on Spotify
Red Garland – You’d be So Nice to Come Home to (Art Pepper)
Duke Ellington – Night Time
Bill Evans – Young and Foolish (Tony Bennett)
Craig Taborn – New Glory
Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Noche da Ronda (Charlie Haden)
Hermeto Pascoal – Chorinho Pra Ele
Hank Jones – It Had to Be You
Lennie Tristano – Line Up
Masabumi Kikuchi – Midnight Sun (Paul Motian)
Paul Bley – Sonic (Jimmy Giuffre 3)
McCoy Tyner – Blues on The Corner
Elmo Hope – One for Joe
Oscar Peterson – Joy Spring
Bobo Stenson – Svenende (Jan Garbarek)
Fred Hersch – O Grande Amor
Danilo Perez – Joy Ryder (Wayne Shorter Quartet)
Wayne Horvitz – Berlin 1914
Joe Zawinul – The Masquerade is Over (Nancy Wilson)