Tuesday, 22 May 2012

MUSIC REVIEW: David Lyttle

He may be Lyttle by name, but he’s not little by nature; Si’s Sights And Sounds recalls what happened when a multi-talented jazz musician, his family and his friends took the City Of Derry Jazz Festival by storm

David Lyttle and his band seem really thrilled at the prospect of performing in front of a packed Playhouse Theatre. An active presence on the jazz scene for more than a decade, the Waringstown-born drummer and urban producer has really made a name for himself this year, thanks to his third album, “Interlude”. It’s an understatement to say that the audience can’t wait to hear him, either. He does not disappoint.

He’s surrounded by an impressive collective of local and national musicians. These include flautist/saxophonist/co-producer Michael Buckley, bassist Keith Duffy (of Corrs fame), jazz pianist Jason Rebello (who’s worked with both Sting and Jeff Beck), and a pair of rappers from Leeds, Homecut and Soweto Kinch.

Essentially, Lyttle’s set is the City Of Derry Jazz Festival in a nutshell; something new or exciting around every corner, when you least expect it. The rappers lead the way with “This Moon Of Ours”, which is reminiscent of the best of De La Soul, with greater rhythm and more emphasis on traditional instruments. The not-quite-as-high tempo but more pleasant “Interlude” introduces us to the smooth, calming vocals of Lyttle’s sister Rhea, which will go on to become a highlight of the set. Indeed, this concert is very much a family affair, with Lyttle’s mother Anne, winner of the “Keeper Of The Torch”, lending her confident, folky tones to “Seek” and “I Don’t Mind”. With Rhea’s perkiness, Anne’s presence and Home Cut’s effervescent delivery, you’re really getting the best of all worlds here.

But the surprises are far from over. When local rapper “Wile Man” (aka actor Eaman Craig) takes to the stage for “Angel”, it feels like Huey Morgan has arrived in the city and adopted a Derry accent. Weird as it may sound, it’s great if you like that sort of thing – and the backing of Rhea, Anne and sax man Jean Toussaint help make it a sure winner.

Still to come are elements of Shakespeare (yes!), satire and improvisation in “The Road”, and musical versatility from Michael Buckley. There’s even beat-boxing from Home Cut, which isn’t to everyone’s taste, but features clever lyrics nonetheless.

It’s clear from this set that David Lyttle is a remarkable drummer, a true inspiration to everyone around him. By night’s end, it’s as if he, his family and his friends have re-invented hip hop with a warm and infectious jazzy beat, leaving an unmistakable feeling of joie de vivre in both the band and the audience.