Room For Dancing is quite simply life affirming music that communicates to all through its beauty and the ensuing dance in our imagination.

Elsden Music EM06

John Crawford: piano, backing vocals; Shirley Smart: cello; Guillermo Hill: guitar; Alec Dankworth: double bass; Simon Pearson: drums; Andres Ticino: percussion; Eleonora Claps: vocals on ‘Things’ & ‘And So It Goes’

Except ‘Track’: John Crawford: piano; Andy Hamill: double bass; Simon Pearson: drums; Jansen Santana: percussion; Linley Weir: vocals, backing vocals

Recorded at Studio 45, London in August 2022 by Greg Dowling
Except Track recorded at Eastcote Studios, London in July 2017
Additional recording at Studio 45, London by Greg Dowling

Room For Dancing is the exceptional new release that is without doubt John Crawford’s most personal statement to date. An album that exudes warmth, and a spirit of family and togetherness that is ultimately uplifting.

A virtuoso pianist renowned for his mastery of Latin music and rhythms, Crawford has also a deep understanding and love of dance, and it is these two influences that combine seamlessly to create music that speaks to the heart, head and the feet.

Dancing is a most basic and enjoyable activity that brings people together, and this is a sentiment that runs deep throughout the album. The musicians that John has chosen to play with are people that he is close to and has built meaningful relationships with. This is clear to hear in the lively and exuberant music that communicates on so many different levels.

The music has a lightness and mobility that exudes a joyful feeling, and the interplay between the musicians is sublime.  So many little relationships going on that feed into the whole, it is fascinating to hear the music come together.

The way guitar, piano and cello combine on ‘Blossom’ by Adriana Vasques is a particular highpoint in an album that is not short on such moments, and the solos by Shirley Smart and Guillermo Hill are breath-taking in their beauty. Another integral aspect of the music is the nimble work of drummer Simon Pearson and percussionist Andreas Ticino who keeps the music moving with an intricate attention to detail that is absorbing despite the introduction by Crawford of some tricky time signatures into the compositions.

This being Crawford’s most personal recording yet, it is made even more so in that he able to make the connection with family that is so important to him with two dances for his daughter’s in ‘Maîte’s Dance’ and ‘Elena’s Dance’. Both have melodies that are unforgettable with ‘Maîte’s Dance’ featuring a lovely solo piano interlude halfway through, and ‘Elena’s Dance’ with a melody line from the piano that immediately gets inside your head and refuses to leave anytime soon. The piece is so delightful that it is reprised at the end of side two of the album in a stunning remix by Andrea Tripodi.

Crawford has also kept the family theme running with two vocal tracks featuring his life partner, Eleonora Claps on ‘Things’ by Louis Cole and a beautiful duet between Eleonora and John on Billy Joel’s ‘And So It Goes’.

As a pianist John has now managed to develop a style and sound of his own and he really doesn’t sound like anyone else. With so many jazz pianists out there that’s quite an achievement, and Room For Dancing is quite simply life affirming music that communicates to all through its beauty and the ensuing dance in our imagination.