Album Review: Dave Drake at Sussex University

Dave Drake

Live at Sussex University

(self-release)

This recording captures a solo concert delivered at the Sussex University Meeting House by the prodigious pianist and local Brighton favourite Dave Drake on one of his visits home from his studies at the New School in Manhattan. Kozen-Rufu Waltz shows his lyrical, romantic side, almost reminiscent of another pianist with local ties, Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurence, though the jagged cascades of notes that intersperse the pastoral melody show Drake’s own individual voice showing through his influences. There are echoes of Jarrett as well, and the multiple interweaving voices and right hand trills of Brad Meldhau, but Drake is his own man and his compositional style is already idiosyncratic – The Will That Says Hold On has a distinct folk-song tinge, Mr Sterling hangs out pounding chords against a suspended, dramatic rubato, Changing Poison Into Medicine contrasts stark space and dynamics with rapid, tumbling treble runs. Drake has an assured technique and a particular touch at the keyboard – very assertive, especially in the right hand, so that his notes jump out in splinters of sound rather than the flowing ripples of, say, the Bill Evans or George Cables school, and the effect is one of unaffected sincerity. The acoustic of the Basil Spence designed space brings out the drama of the compositions perfectly – this is an impressive document of an emerging talent.

Eddie Myer

Dave Drake, piano.

Available on Spotify and Apple Music.