Notable Impressions

Notable Impressions is Clive’s Latest album release and represents influences of some of his favourite pianists. This is not a tribute album however but a thank you to all these great musicians that have inspired him and help shape the way he plays today. The album although essentially a jazz trio album with Mike Smith (drums) and Sam Burgess (Bass) it also features Adam Goldsmith (Guitars) and Adrian Revell (Flute, Alto and Tenor Saxes). This album is available now and can be purchased from this website.

“Hauntingley arranged to the stonking accompaniment of the Clive Dunstall Trio” Mark Shenton – The Stage.

Audio Samples

A Piece Of Cake For Mr Peterson
A Policeman's Lot Is Not A Happy One
Pure Imagination
With A Little Help From My Friends
“Now a pianist, arranger, MD and composer, Dunstall started his musical career playing trumpet and piano in the Royal Marines.  He has subsequently performed, directed and played in West End shows, orchestras, big bands, improvising ensembles as well as producing three albums of his own.  This debut jazz trio album is a splendid tribute to the many pianists who have influenced him – Monty Alexander, Tom Schuman, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, John Critchinson and more.  Dunstall’s touch is dexterous and subtle, resulting in a series of recordings which, from start to finish, demonstrate his mastery of various styles.”
The Musician (MU Magazine), Spring 2011

“Fusion, jazz-rock, and there are probably several more names for this type of music, does not feature too often in my listening, even though some great players have tried it – Miles Davis springs to mind.

Equally I cannot go along with those who take their jazz too seriously to the exclusion of all else – I remember feeling quite incensed at a Merlin’s gig when one of our leading jazz musicians, who shall be nameless, was quite scathing about pop writers, particularly Lennon and McCartney, who penned some beautiful music.

All this came to mind when I received a CD featuring a pianist known to Merlin’s audiences, but who has not appeared there for some time, Clive Dunstall. Called Notable Impressions, it features 14 tracks, nine of which are his own compositions, and the more I played it, the more I liked it, particularly those kinds of tracks about which I wrote at the top of this column.

Clive now lives in Chesham – he is married to singer Mandy Watsham, to whom one of the compositions is dedicated, and another is dedicated to his father-in-law, Town Crier and local theatre stalwart Eric Watsham.

In his sleeve notes, Clive points out that Noteable Impressions is not a tribute album, but “really a thank you to all the pianists who have influenced and inspired me to play jazz piano”.

These include Monty Alexander, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, Dudley Moore, Andre Previn and, very close to home, John Critchinson, a current regular at Merlin’s, former Ronnie Scott pianist, and at whose knee Clive started learning to play jazz piano at the age of 18.

Stand-out tracks for me include those which are pure jazz piano, including A Nice Way ‘O’ List’nin’.

They say behind every song title there is a good story, and Clive tells this one in his erudite sleeve notes.

But also impressive were the Lennon-McCartney With A Little Help From My Friends and a very humorous interpretation of the G&S song from Pirates of Penzance, A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One. If all G&S were interpreted in this way, I could grow to like it!

This is not a solo piano album: also featured are guitar, saxophone, bass and, delightfully, Mike Smith on drums.

It is on MCPS number CPD002. It’s a good buy, unless oc course, you are one of those who just take their jazz too seriously. Isn’t it meant to be fun?” The Buckinghamshire Examiner Thursday, January, 2009. Jazz diary, with Tony White.


Monty ALEXANDER (1) Cryin’ Eric’s Bell Ringin’ Blues! (4.07)

Monty Alexander is a pianist who I much admire. He has the technique of Oscar Peterson combined with a more contemporary feel that I love and swings like the clappers! (No pun intended.) This first composition was written for my father in law Eric Watsham, an avid jazz fan, forming the title from his name and unusual job of Chesham Town Crier! Hence the use of a hand bell at the end of the piece. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!

Tom SCHUMAN (2) The Skelton Flyer! (4.41)

I first heard Tom Schuman on Morning Dance by Spyro Gyra (1979). My favourite track being Little Linda on which Tom features both Fender Rhodes and Piano with great contrasting styled solos. His piano and synth playing on Spyro Gyra albums have really inspired my Jazz-fusion ideas. I guess this composition has a Morning Dance – Spyro Gyra-ish type of feel to it.

This tune was sketched out on a train in Dublin in June 2000 whilst MD-ing a big band for a touring Rat Pack show. Jeremy Brown (bass), Matt Skelton (drums) and I played through it for fun, but it wasn’t until 8 years later that the arrangement was completed for this album. Matt is a keen steam train enthusiast so I thought it appropriate not to ‘derail’ from my transport inspired tune and dedicated this ‘jazz locomotive’ to him. After all, I know my ‘station’! All aboard!

George SHEARING (3) Pure Imagination (5.54)

What I love about George Shearing’s playing are his trademark block chords accompanied by guitar and vibes giving a lush warm sectional feel that is unique to him. In addition he uses some great lyrical improvisational motifs such as consecutive 4th runs as included at the end of this arrangement of Bricusse and Newley’s ‘Pure Imagination’ from the film ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

Oscar PETERSON (4) A Piece of Cake for Mr Peterson! (4.11)

Oscar Peterson was probably the reason why I wanted to play jazz piano. His technique, dexterity and musicianship will always amaze me. In the early 1980s Oscar presented and performed a TV series called Jazz at the Gateway in which the title tune was one of his own compositions called ‘The Cakewalk’.

Taking inspiration from this composition and ‘Oscar stylings’ my humble offering is aptly named ‘A piece of cake for Mr Peterson’. Had he ever played this musical ‘Victoria sponge’ he would have eaten it up for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea! Oscar, you will always be one of my musical legends.

Bill SHARPE (5) As Sharpe as Bill! (3.46)

As a schoolboy in the late 70s with the British ‘hit parade’ focusing on a choice mainly of punk or heavy metal, I would opt for Led Zeppelin and his ilk to listen to, as I really liked the guitar solos. So you can imagine my joy when Shakatak with Bill Sharpe on Keyboards appeared in the charts in the early 80s featuring great funky piano led tunes and solos. Also the likes of Level 42 and Icelandic band Mezzoforte appeared on the scene making my young musical life complete – except for the feeling that the pop world would have moved on from funk by the time I was able to play it! Nevertheless Bill Sharpe had a great influence on my interest in jazz-funk. Shakatak is still recording and performing nearly 30 years later, which is a real testament to the band’s talent.

I composed this in the mid 80s and updated it for this album. My initial inspiration would have come from Shakatak’s 1st album Drivin’ Hard

Bob JAMES (6) Glam Cabs (7.20)

Although not that inspired by the British pop scene in the late 70s and early 80s, I was inspired by some of the American TV themes. I enjoyed listening to TV theme tunes such as ‘Lou Grant’, ‘Cagney and Lacey’ and of course ‘Taxi’ that featured the title tune ‘Angela’ (theme from Taxi) composed and performed by Bob James. Bob (and Bill Sharpe for that matter) both use the Fender Rhodes piano to great effect setting the instrument up so it has a really warm ‘milky’ sound quality to it, using it to great effect and pioneering it as a jazz instrument in the 1970s/80s.

To continue with a title in a similar vein I drew on one of the great British institutions, the Carry On films, for inspiration. Being a huge fan I decided to name this tune after the taxi firm run by Hattie Jacques featured in the 1963 film Carry On Cabby. Glam Cabs! I have arranged this with a Bob James/Dave Sanborn Double Vision feel to it in mind and it features Adrian Revell on Alto Saxophone. Ding Dong! Carry On!

Dave GRUSIN (7) Watercolours (7.34)

Dave Grusin has produced, composed, arranged and performed an enormous amount of music over the years from film scores to jazz albums. He is a musician’s musician who is at home with any genre of music and styling. As a pianist, for me he has a classical approach with precise technique mixed with fantastic jazz groove playing and produces a great sound from the piano that’s all his own.

This composition has a loosely classical feel with jazz overtones that show a little of Dave’s playing, composing and arranging styles which have influenced me. It would be fair to say that traces of a few other keyboard players such as Joe Zawinal, Jeff Lorber or Pete Jacobsen, all of whom I very much admire, may have crept into the synth playing. Essentially though I hope I have achieved something that represents Dave Grusin’s style.

Dudley MOORE (8) The Moore the Merrier (5.43)

Dudley Moore is the person I’d most like to have been able to meet for both his great playing and comedic talent. As a pianist he achieves a real sense of fun and enjoyment combined with some great musical ideas. His writing often had quirky characterisation such as a ‘triple tonguing’ of fast repeated notes, right hand ‘piano rolling’ high register blues and Errol Garner-ish left hand syncopation. In the liner notes of the album ‘Authentic Dud’ Paul Hamilton sums up Dud’s playing with this quote. “There is a sprightly happiness, and a depth of blue feeling directly from the heart”Ö. These are my sentiments entirely!

This composition was originally written for a jazz piano trio feature for BBC Radio 2′s ‘Friday Night is Music Night’, although by pure chance it happened to be a special musical programme of Dudley’s music. This particular arrangement incorporates the ‘fingerpop’ style sometimes adopted by Chris Karan (Dudley’s drummer) that I think provides a happy swinging 60s vibe of The Dudley Moore trio in its prime.

Andre PREVIN (9) I Love You Samantha (4.36)

Nowadays the word genius gets used at the drop of a hat but I think it’s fair to say that few people would argue the musical genius that is AndrÈ Previn. Whether as a Conductor of most of the world’s top orchestras, an MGM film composer and arranger, or pianist (classical or jazz) he has excelled. For this album I have focused on his jazz playing/arranging.

Andre’s lateral thinking in his show tune arrangements is my inspiration here. For example, he uses varying time signatures of 5/4, 4/4 and 3/4 in his jazz trio version of ‘On the street where you live’ from his 1956 jazz trio album My Fair Lady (Shelley Manne – drums, Leroy Vinnegar – bass) to give this song a totally new feel. He did the same with the score of West Side Story on his 1959 Grammy award-winning album (Shelly Manne – drums, Red Mitchell – bass.)

One of my favourite films is ‘High Society’ by Cole Porter and I have arranged the song ‘I love you Samantha” (featuring Sam Burgess on bass) with AndrÈ Previn’s work in mind.

Lyle MAYS (10) A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One (5.24)

Although Lyle Mays is mainly associated with Pat Metheny, I have taken my inspiration for this track from his 1988 solo album Street Dreams. There is a composition on this album called ‘Chorinho’ which incorporates a duet with himself using both electric and acoustic pianos. Lyle’s playing features some beautifully crafted improvisations combining elements of classical and jazz-rock. The electric piano is playing a constant four in a bar rhythmic pulse whilst the piano is providing the melody and it is with this template I have constructed my arrangement.

Thinking slightly ‘out of the box’ as in the previous track I have used a song from the 1879 musical ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan and have updated it well over a 100 years into Lyle’s much more contemporary jazz style. At the end of the piece I have blended in a quote from ‘Phase Dance’ composed by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays using a trade mark flutey synth that Lyle uses, as well as a couple of extra sounds (organ and voices) to give it my own identity

George GERSHWIN (11) I Loves You Porgy (8.19)

I have included George Gershwin on this album as, apart from being a very fine pianist, he has penned some of the finest songs ever written, to the extent that many have become jazz standards sung and recorded by many jazz artistes. Ella Fitzgerald, for example, recorded an album in 1959 entitled Gershwin Songbook (arrangements by Nelson Riddle) and what jazz musicians now know as ‘Rhythm Changes’ (chord progressions used in jazz composition that were usually ‘up tempo’ standards, such as ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ and ‘Meet the Flintstones’) all originated from the chord sequence of Gershwin’s ‘I Got Rhythm’.

Whilst Gershwin was studying composition in Paris Maurice Ravel is said to have declined to give him lessons as Ravel thought that vigorous study might ruin his jazz influenced style. He is also reported to have said that with the money George earned as a composer he should have been giving him lessons!

For this arrangement I have used a concurrent ‘Bess You Is My Woman Now’ intro/bridge between choruses of the song ‘I loves you Porgy’ from George Gershwin’s opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. At the end of the previous track I have put in a trademark ‘Phase Dance’ quote. In this track I have done a similar thing, this time quoting possibly George Gershwin’s greatest composition, ‘Rhapsody In Blue’!

John CRITCHINSON (12) “A Nice Way ‘O’ List’nin” (5.43)

Aged 18 I started to have jazz piano lessons with Ronnie Scott’s pianist John Critchinson. I remember my first lesson with him very well. I still have it recorded on cassette and in fact this composition originates from two short phrases of John’s improvisations on ‘Autumn Leaves’. John is a very experienced jazz pianist whose playing I really admire and I think what I learned from him at that time was the use of rootless chords, close harmony voicing, musical phrasing and to realise that space is good too. I’m still learning that one in fact!

John told me that I had “The musical exuberance of youth” and “a nice way of listening to myself” hence the title. If the truth were known though, my favourite part of the lesson involved me listening to him play! Thanks for your inspirational playing and teaching John.

BONUS TRACK / Clive DUNSTALL (13) You’re My Millie’n’s Mollie ’n’ Mandy (5.08)

Sometimes it’s not just music that inspires a musician and in this case the composition was written for two people who inspire me daily. During the making of this album they were both in the studio supporting me which meant so much to me. One is my wife Mandy who is my soul mate and love of my life and the other is my beautiful baby daughter Mollie who was born between the months of recording and mixing! Thank you both for the love, encouragement and joy you both bring to my life. I’m truly blessed!

On listening to my recording I noticed, as you undoubtedly will have recognized, a more than passing resemblance to a certain Gershwin tune. It is honestly a happy accident but even so, to the listener, ‘It’s very clear’!

Russell FERRANTE (14) With a Little Help From My Friends (5.44)

This final track represents a pianist who I have followed mainly through his work with ‘The Yellowjackets’. Russell Ferrante is one of the great modern jazz pianists in my opinion. I particularly enjoy his jazz-fusion and jazz-rock playing.

The title of this particular arrangement of the Beatles classic ‘With a little help from my friends’ completes my liner notes nicely. Whether knowingly or unknowingly all these fantastic pianists (and plenty more not mentioned on this album) have helped shape me and other budding jazz pianists to form our own musical identities.

Possibly the first Yellowjackets tune I ever heard was Monmouth College Fight Song from the ‘live from Montreux’ Casino Lights album recorded in 1981. I have incorporated Russell’s intricate rock-shuffle writing and rhythmic piano playing into this arrangement. I hope you like it. Thanks for sharing my musical developmental journey and I hope you enjoy the album.