28th October 2013
Midnight In Havana
1. Bucaneros At O'Reilleys / 2. The Long Goodbye / 3. James Booker's Ghost / 4. Manrique / 5. Piano Noir / 6. Midnight In Havana / 7. Velvet And Absinthe / 8. Enter Ladies Man / 9. Montmartre Twilight / 10. Sketch
"Oh dear. I’m alive..!" Pianist Louis Vause has always said that his albums are "Gouged out of him by circumstance," but his third album ‘Midnight In Havana’really is a case in point. Recorded as a valedictory set, a swansong if you like, after he was told that the onset of cancer meant that he had mere months to live, the completion of the work coincided with his liver transplant and the all clear. He was in the pink. The same could not be said for his credit cards which had covered Louis’ uncharacteristically cavalier spending on recording costs. Louis had even lavished time on a specific attempt to convert his track ‘The Long Goodbye’ (on his first album as a piano solo) into a kind of New Orleans funeral march! Louis is known for collaborations with the likes of Robyn Hitchcock, Graham Coxon, Martin Carthy, Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra and also for featuring on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Down The Line’. He even performed with Madness recently on their 'Slow It Down' ad for Kronenbourg. ‘Midnight In Havana’ takes him back to his own sound and style, described by Uncut as "Wonderfully atmospheric piano playing that commands total attention". Orchestrated by Louis, in order that the various combinations of musicians on each track would complement the strengths of each composition, the textures on the album are a constant surprise. They range from solo piano [‘Piano Noir’] through piano, bass, drums and percussion (‘Bucaneros at O’Reilly’s’), to an 11 piece small orchestra on the epic title track. The album was largely inspired by time spent in the Cuban capital. With Louis specializing in providing what The Mirror hailed as, "A feast of swamp brews, hit the floor jolly ups and fast finger faves", ‘Midnight In Havana’ was never going to be a tame affair; and so it proves. The album blends elements as diverse as Ruben Gonzales, Ramsey Lewis, Manuel De Falla, George Gershwin - even Eric Satie. Yet the unique Louis Vause sound remains undiminished. As The Observer noted, he has his own signature sound and feel; "Beneath his hands come echoes of Dr John, Professor Longhair, Fats Waller and James Booker. But there is something else too: a rolling, swampy lilt that is all his own".