“An impressive demonstration of the straight-ahead bop piano lineage.” The Irish Times
As jazz settles into its second century, the rude health of the piano trio worldwide belies the notion that the creative seam of acoustic piano, bass and drums has been mined to exhaustion, and Ireland has its own high achievers.
Described by The Irish Times as a textbook example of the ongoing vitality of the tradition, Phil Ware’s trio has set a new benchmark for the piano trio here. Born in England but a Dubliner since 2000, Ware’s contribution to the Irish jazz resurgence has been generous to a fault, his tasteful and always supportive playing a leitmotif of many leading groups.
As with so many pianists, he has a special affinity for singers, but his penchant for melody is best appreciated when he performs with stalwarts bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Kevin Brady and their hallmark deep groove.
Like the great piano trios that have preceded them, this is a genuinely democratic discourse between the three participating musicians, with each of the musical elements in a delicately poised balance between collective responsibility and individual expression. First among these equals is Ware, swinging hard with the instrument’s full potential, from its gentle intimacy to its orchestral sweep, captured beneath his hands.
Stride for stride, a piano trio from Ireland worthy of the genre’s illustrious history.
Born in London but raised in the wilds of Lincolnshire in England, Phil started learning classical piano at the less-than-tender age of 12, and developed a passion for boogie-woogie shortly afterwards. Following a disastrous spell at film school, his jazz epiphany occurred in his early twenties, after seeing a documentary on saxophonist John Coltrane.
Initially inspired by such pianists as Wynton Kelly and Bobby Timmons, he began to teach himself the style through trial and (mostly) error. Within a few years, he was playing alongside British luminaries like Bobby Wellins, Tina May and Jim Mullen, and was twice a finalist in the Young Jazz Musician of the Year.
Phil uprooted himself in 2000 to continue his career in Ireland, one of the few sensible things he has done in his life. Apart from working in groups led by major Irish jazz musicians, he has found himself in such musically diverse situations as the Brazilian-informed Tudo Bem, Zrazy, the Night In Havana Orchestra, and has acted as accompanist and musical director for vocalists Honor Heffernan, Cormac Kenevey, and Maria Tecce.
In addition to gigging, making radio and television appearances, producing, and playing on numerous albums, he also teaches extensively. Along with Ronan and Conor Guilfoyle, he is a coordinator for Newpark Music Centre’s prestigious BA in Jazz Performance, a degree course that has the honour of being the first of its kind in Ireland. Luckily, he is able to get away from it all at his home on a secluded leafy lane in Dublin, for which he is very grateful.
Phil still prefers Christopher Eccleston to David Tennant, but is willing to be swayed on the matter.
Dave’s musical career began with the violin in his formative years. He switched to the electric bass when he was 16, playing in rock bands around Dublin. Like his fellow band–member Kevin Brady, he attended Newpark Music Centre, where his musical interests turned to jazz.
He then took up the double bass, joining the composers’ collective OldSquareLines, a group of young Irish musicians consisting of his contemporaries from Newpark. Their debut CD Habit of Energy was released in 2006.
Moving on from his studies, Dave rapidly established himself on the Irish jazz scene. His propulsive style has made him much in demand by leading players such as Louis Stewart, Mike Nielson, Tommy Halferty, Myles Drennan, and Hugh, Richie and Michael Buckley.
He has also been heard in the presence of many international musicians such as Van Morrison, Bob Dorough, Guy Barker, Ian Shaw and Scott Hamilton.
His influences range from Drew Gress (with whom he studied with in New York), through iconoclasts Jaki Byard and Joe Henderson, to band leaders such as Wayne Shorter and Cedar Walton.
Dave subsequently returned to Newpark to teach bass.
He’s also a big fan of Bruce Lee.
Kevin began studying classical piano when he was eight years old, and subsequently played trumpet and cornet in the Cambridge Concert Band. He took up the drums at 19 under the tutelage of Conor Guilfoyle, at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin. There followed a stint at the Drummer’s Collective in NYC with Kim Plainfield and Bobby Sanabrias, and he has also studied under Ralph Peterson, Casey Scheuerell, Eliot Zigmund and Keith Copeland.
Since gaining his Diploma in Jazz Performance from the Guildhall School of Music in London, he has worked with many leading Irish and international players, including Louis Stewart, Honor Heffernan, Bobby Watson, Bill Carrothers, Jim Mullen, Guy Barker, Tim Whitehead, Bobby Wellins, Giovanni Mirabassi and Ian Shaw.
Kevin is also a member of the highly-respected Hammond group Organics, whose album New Light was released in 2005 to critical acclaim, both in Ireland and abroad.
He has played extensively outside the jazz world with artists such as Van Morrison, Rebecca Collins and singer-songwriter Dave Geraghty. Working with award-winning contemporary Irish group Grada he has toured the globe, including a performance at the Sydney Opera House in 2004.
Like many of his contemporaries on the Irish jazz scene, he currently teaches at Newpark Music Centre.