Yetii - Live At The Greenbank

Updated: Oct 31



The acoustic trio, Yettii have built for themselves a committed following through their monthly residency at The Greenbank in Bristol for the last three years. Yetii comprises pianist, arranger, and composer Alex Veitch, Ashley John Long on bass, and Alex Goodyear on drums. Veitch has been in Bristol for five years and graduated from the Guildhall Masters program. He has had a bi-monthly residency at Upstairs at Ronnie Scott's and plays as a sidesman in the Bristol area with other musicians. Long is a bassist and composer well-versed in extended techniques, free improvisation, and chamber music. Goodyear is something of a prodigy from the Royal Welsh and a popular sidesman. Side musician credits for the band include John Law, Keith Tippett, Simon Spillett, and Nigel Price.

Alongside The Greenbank residency, Yetii has launched an ambitious video project over the course of the last year, documenting their original compositions and arrangements in videos, which have included their versions of Beatles tunes featuring Jake McMurchie (Get the Blessing) and Radiohead with Alun Elliot-Williams (Ishmael Ensemble), and their most watched video 'Summer.' This recording, recorded live at The Greenbank on 7th July 2022, is released alongside four full-length videos taken on the night.

Yetii's journey has been steady – creating great music, telling people where they are playing, and building an audience who become regulars. Now, their residency at The Greenbank sells out each month, and they are in increasing demand as their handcrafted mailing list has grown to well over 500, and the number continues to rise. Yes, handcrafted! Yetii believe in community, something it is easy to glean from their playing and interaction with the audience, which you can hear on the CD. Using different collaborators, they have held a selection of 'rework' nights at the live gigs.

Concerts are booked ahead into 2023 with the likes of composer and saxophonist Iain Bellamy, and they are creating works with folk singer Bea Piper (Hands of the Heron) for shows next year. They maintain their relationship with their audience by regularly posting videos to YouTube documenting the band's progress and rise – so their audience is part of the journey. They recently hired veteran videographer Fred Iles to create shots for their upcoming one-take video series. Ronnie Scott's and St George's concert Hall in Bristol have shown an interest. The band has a nine-date tour arranged from November.

I asked Veitch about this recording and Yetii. He told me, "Yetii feels like it takes its own course: group improvisations made up of sparse, interlocking, minimalist fragments; a shared single voice that ebbs and flows. It's not something we've ever specifically practiced. When writing the music, I always imagine The Greenbank, where we'll perform it. This gig, and that space, are the musical home of this group, and so it seems fitting that it is this live recording that makes its way out into the world in the form of our debut full-length release."


'Spring' opens the album with a sense of emergence as the piano plays a winsome melody, backed by gentle support in a seemingly traditional track. But, Yetii is not strictly orthodox - and a closer listen to discover what draws you to the music is a revelation. There are single-beat held-back spaces scattered throughout the track, making the listener double-take (or double-listen) and keep their ears pricked. The bass solo is extraordinary, and the percussion is supportive for most of the track but occasionally adds tricks and flourishes of its own, which lead you to an understanding that this is not just a bunch of musicians playing along together but a band who are at once intuitively listening and blending their styles. Just before the halfway mark, at the re-entry of the piano, Veitch re-instates the melody but with twists and turns, which make it intrinsically different. The tempo picks up, and the rhythm runs away for just a little while before the piano twinkles, the signal to return to calm, and all pulls down to near silence before the piano rises and voices the melody again—a beautiful and change-packed opener which reveals much about the band.

'Enough' opens with arcs of melody from the piano, which develop into swingy, paced phrases, the boundaries opened up, explored, and exchanged between the three musicians. Again, the sense of pause and re-enter makes the emphasis shift and move, adding shifting sands to the steadfast undercurrents of the track, and the second half sees the development of intricate, delicately woven patterns of rhythm and textures. Rivulets of sounds are finished in percussive rattles, which seem to fall precisely where the phrase ends, and the bass intuitively picks up the keynotes from the piano, weaving seamlessly a warmth of expression which is both enduring and engaging across the track.

'Asking' is atmospheric and emotive, with the piano almost questioning with far-reaching, overarching phrasing, under which the percussion delicately sifts sound into the gaps between the notes while the bass introduces steadfast foundations. The second half build is not one of tempo but of depths, textures, and sound-filled moments. The piano leads, but this is in no way a solo track because the other musicians interject their voices so that the track would sound wrong without them.

'Summer' leads off with bass developing a rounded melody, and the sonorous songs of the strings swell as Long shows why he is a coveted player. Initially interspersing gentle runs under the bass, the piano rises to take the lead, and the music evokes images of a coloured landscape; the listener is taken through exchanges, changes of pace, and atmosphere as the trio develops the warmth of sunny days and relaxed, care-free times. The ease with which the rhythm changes in the piano are reflected in the other musician's delivery is just one sign of the musical intimacy these players share.

'Grounded' is melodic, interlaced with woven, interlocking snippets of musical time and space, which together create a sense of immeasurable change, yet an infusion of control – because these musicians know exactly what they are doing. The spaces are made as much of as the notes, and the percussion is sublimely intuitive on this track. Interestingly, the bass switches from single, held disharmonic notes to 8-note rivulets under the gentle piano just before the 3.20 mark.

King/Goffin's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is recognisable but given the Yetii treatment and transformed into a unique rendition, full of nuance and emotion.

What strikes the listener is the original take Yetii seem to have and how they have worked jazz into something broader – which will appeal to many listeners and audience members. Complex harmonies are made accessible – mainly because they can only get so complicated with three musicians but also because they are delivered to create atmosphere and change rather than for the sake of complexity, so the listener can feel where the music is going ( sometimes this is not always where they end up, but that is part of the fun).

Each musician gets to solo, and they clearly have a profound understanding of each other's playing. The use of space, silence, and percussive elements, not just from the drums, also adds to the mix.

The compositions allow space for each trio member while at the same time ensuring a sense of cohesion as the elements are drawn together to create a singularity and oneness – and the delighted reaction of the audience at the end of the tracks tells you this works a treat. They are exuberant yet controlled, untamed yet finessed. Yetii also has something else – a connection with the past and present, which few bands have achieved recently.

The album is released on 2nd November at live events, on 10th November on Bandcamp, and on 24th November for streaming.


Contact: yetiimusicbristol@gmail.com

Website

https://yetiimusic.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-greenbank


TRACK LISTING

1. Spring (Veitch)

2. Enough (Veitch)

3. Asking (Veitch)

4. Summer (Veitch)

5. Grounded (Veitch)

6. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow ( Carole King/ Gerry Goffin)

LINKS

Website: http://www.alexanderveitch.com/yetii

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/__yetii_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YetiiTrio

Recorded live by Doug Cave at The Greenbank on

July 7th 2022

Mixed by Doug Cave

Mastered by Bill Sellar

Cover Art by Ian Anderson of The Designers

Republic


TOUR

02.11 Cardiff Flute & Tankard

03.11 Bristol The Greenbank

04.11 Totnes The Barrelhouse

05.11 Falmouth The Poly

16.11 Fishguard Aberjazz

17.11 Narbeth The Plas Hotel

30.11 Bishops Stortford Southmill Arts

01.12 Norwich Anteros Arts

03.04 Abergavenny Black Mountain Jazz

TBC Jazz Stroud

TBC Peggy's Skylight

TBC Matt & Phred's