Andrew Oliver: No Local Stops review – a masterclass in early jazz piano

(Rivermont)
Works by Jelly Roll Morton and other early 20th-century piano greats just fly in the hands of this 21st-century virtuoso

If anyone is going to succeed in rescuing good music from the ghetto called “early jazz”, it will be the pianist Andrew Oliver. I wouldn’t go so far as one critic, who claimed that Oliver was “almost punk-rock” in his approach, but there’s definitely something about his combination of technical brilliance and go-for-broke dynamism that just grabs you.

No Local Stops is a follow-up to last year’s glowingly received Complete Morton Project with clarinettist David Horniblow. Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton turns up again here, but this time as one of many piano virtuosos of the early 20th century, among them James P Johnson, Seger Ellis and Willie “the Lion” Smith. The styles vary, from pre-1914 ragtime to Harlem stride of the 1930s. Oliver grasps them all so thoroughly that he adapts, combines, modifies and extends the originals – even includes a composition of his own – and not a note or gesture sounds out of place.

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