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Portrait of David LyttleTHE SHORT STORY

Described by Rolling Stone magazine as "one of the best, robust listening experiences you're likely to have all year", MOBO Award-nominated David Lyttle shifts seamlessly between the personas of jazz drummer, recording artist, composer/songwriter, producer and record label owner. Starting out as a child performer at the age of four with his family band, he first reached a national audience as a jazz performer in the band of legendary guitarist Louis Stewart, before going on to perform in fifteen countries and develop associations with jazz icons Joe Lovano, Jason Rebello and Jean Toussaint, and hip hop visionaries Talib Kweli and Soweto Kinch. The release of his third album, Faces, led to nominations in the MOBO Awards and Urban Music Awards, and radio play on specialist radio and mainstream radio. On Jazz FM, album singles 'Lullaby For The Lost' and 'The Second Line' each topped the playlist for over a month, making David one of their most played artists in 2015. Having just finished his busiest touring year with his trio in the UK and Europe, David will carry out artist residencies in 2017 in China and the U.S.

 

David Lyttle announcing from the drums at the Hotel Cafe, HollywoodTHE LONG STORY

David Lyttle began performing professionally at the age of four in his folk group the Lyttle Family, playing bongos, bodhran and mini lambeg drum. At eight years old he added drum kit and by ten years old he was also studying cello and uillean pipes. At eighteen he began focusing on the drum kit after taking an interest in jazz. Over the next three years David received scholarships to study at Skidmore Jazz Institute (New York) and the Banff Centre (Canada), whilst also studying for a BMus at the University of Ulster. After graduating, David was offered a government grant to write a PhD thesis at the University of Ulster, becoming a doctor of music in 2009. During this time he also took lessons in New York with Jeff 'Tain' Watts, John Riley, Ari Hoenig, Ralph Peterson and Carl Allen.

David first reached a national audience with jazz guitar legend Louis Stewart in 2006. In 2007 he released his first solo album, True Story, on his newly formed label Lyte Records and over the next five years would feature a long list of international jazz icons in his touring bands, including Greg Osby, Soweto Kinch, Terell Stafford, Jason Rebello, Jean Toussaint, John Riley and Tim Warfield. From 2007 to 2011 he performed in twelve countries, appearing regularly in New York, Toronto and London, toured with Jonathan Kreisberg, Jason Palmer, Jaleel Shaw, Jamie Baum and Michael Janisch, and played a John Coltrane tribute concert with Dave Liebman in Dublin. In 2010 he produced and played on the album Questions for guitarist Andreas Varady, then just 12 years old, and was praised by the international jazz press for discovering and mentoring the young jazz star before he signed to Quincy Jones Productions.

In 2012 David branched out into hip hop and soul and released his second album Interlude. First heard on BBC Radio 1's Introducing, it has helped earn him an international reputation as a producer and songwriter, with praise ranging from the Daily Mirror to MOBO, and diverse airplay around the world. Brought to millions by its Channel 4 album advert campaign with HMV, Interlude featured David on drums, keyboards, bass, cello and vocals, alongside some of his heroes, contemporaries and family, including sister Rhea, mother Anne, MOBO-winning rapper Soweto Kinch, and session icons Jason Rebello and Pino Palladino. David toured Interlude in Ireland, Britain and the U.S. in 2012 and 2013, with highlight shows at the London Jazz Festival and historic Hollywood music venue The Hotel Cafe. In June 2013 David released the dance music single 'Celebrate' with Interlude vocalist Rhea, Northern Irish recording artist Duke Special and the percussionists of Beat Carnival, a Belfast arts organisation where David was the 2013 Musician-In-Residence. The track was playlisted by the majority of Ireland's commercial radio stations.

David's third album Faces was released in March 2015 on Lyte Records and distributed by Universal. It features his collaborations with hip hop visionary Talib Kweli, Grammy winning saxophone icon Joe Lovano, Irish music star Duke Special, British vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, family members Rhea Lyttle and Anne Lyttle, and jazz artists Jason Rebello, Jean Toussaint, Michael Buckley and Tom Harrison. It was recorded in New York, London, Dublin and Lyttle's country studio in Co. Armagh. Commanding diverse international attention in the media from Rolling Stone magazine in the U.S. to Japanese radio giant J Wave. BBC's Laverne Laverne, RTE Radio 1's John Creedon and Jazz FM were among the album's champions closer to home and Faces quickly became David's most diverse, wide reaching and critically acclaimed album to date. Following live dates in Ireland and the UK he was nominated for a MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act in September 2015 and in October 2015 was nominated for an Urban Music Award.

Also during 2015 David was Musician-In-Residence at the Nerve Centre, Derry, as part of the city's legacy initiative following its designation as UK City of Culture in 2013. The residency was primarily about collaboration and included the roots album Say & Do with Northern Irish singer/songwriter VerseChorusVerse, formerly of And So I Watch You From Afar, which went to No. 1 in the Amazon UK blues chart in November 2015. David also collaborated with previous Derry Musician-In-Residence Neil Cowley during this time.

David's nomination in the MOBO Awards for Best Jazz Act was a major breakthrough and led to his busiest touring year in 2016 with his trio, including dates throughout the UK and Ireland, and in Austria, Germany and Holland. He was also Artist-In-Residence at the MAC, Belfast, with Moving On Music, for three months, acting as a mentor to emerging Northern Irish jazz artists.

David has just completed an ambitious U.S. artist residency funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Major Individual Award. His 5000 mile road trip in his red Cadillac DeVille saw him perform for cowboys, UFO tourists, bikers and the unsuspecting public in an attempt to understand what people really think of jazz. The project was sponsored by Yamaha drums and Donegal craft soft drink McDaid's Football Special, which David chose as his official drink during his time in the U.S. He also vlogged exclusively for the MOBO Awards' YouTube channel and had coverage from NPR, BBC and KUNV Las Vegas, who interviewed him at various stages of his journey.

David's next major outing is to China, where he will spend seven weeks as the British Council and PRSF's Musician In Residence.

 

WHAT THE MEDIA SAY ABOUT DAVID'S MUSIC
 
"...genre-spanning...sophisticated and sharp...one of the best, robust listening experiences you're likely to have all year." 
- ROLLING STONE (on Faces)
 
"...infectious...hypnotic, soulful and terrifically rhythmic. One of the most inventive Irish releases of the year."
- HOT PRESS (on Faces)
 
"...ambitious in its distillation of folk and urban, acoustic and electric, pop, jazz and rap sources...huge variety in sound and tone...Lyttle achieves musical coherence all the same...an impressive achievement..."
- JAZZWISE (on Faces)
 
"New Orleans funk, uber-catchy pop and gospel-tinged soul rubbing shoulders with smouldering jazz improvisation and contemporary urban rhythms and vocals...Potentially the feel-good cross-over album of the year."
- ALL ABOUT JAZZ (on Faces)
 
"...classy...slick...exceptional..."
- MOBO (on Interlude)
 
"...exceptional...incredible...soulful..."
- DAILY MIRROR (on Interlude)
 
"...splendid...a retro blast from the past."
- RTE (on Interlude)
 
"...a veritable one-man industry...every indication of being the most curious, inventive and niche-averse artist in the country. [Interlude is] beautifully-produced...stellar. A rare sort of treat to come out of Ireland. Superb."
- HOT PRESS (on Interlude)
 
WHAT THE MEDIA SAY ABOUT DAVID'S DRUMMING
 
"...extraordinary..."
- TIME OUT
 
"...brilliant..."
- IRISH TIMES
 
"...unfailing...prolific..."
- JAZZWISE
 
"...shit hot...incredible..."
- DAILY MIRROR
 
"The word 'awesome' is vastly overused but it might just fit."
- JAZZ JOURNAL
 
"He drums with such discretion and awareness...allowing the music to breathe with a tonal sense that's as refreshing as it is creative."
- THE HERALD SCOTLAND
 
"...electrifying..."
- LONDON JAZZ NEWS
 
"...endlessly inventive...outstanding."
- EVENING EXPRESS (SCOTLAND)
 
"...dazzling poly-rhythms, creative cymbal dynamics, and sensitive brushwork...he has earned his place in the jazz drums lineage established by artists like Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Art Blakey."
- eJazzNews
 
"...a hip new generation hard bop style grounded in the musical universe of Art Blakey, feeding the style of new masters such as Brian Blade into the mix of his own polyrhythmic sound..."
- MARLBANK