Eli Teplin’s gentle and sophisticated piano-based pop is charged with energy live, aided by a sensational bassist and drummer, and the luscious, cigar-smoke filled vibe of (27-time Grammy winner) Quincy Jones’ latest jazz bar.
Teplin’s songs are full of happy-go-lucky vintage pop charm, with songs like “Satellite” and “Silent Assassin” bouncing along on syncopated chords and a funk beat. On the top, Teplin’s melodies leap unexpectedly, his voice effortless and unaffected, like Coldplay’s Chris Martin with the vocal accuracy of a trained chorister. His direct and personal lyrics often focus on the theme of long-distance relationships, including the chilled-out “Santorini”: “It’s hard to know what kisses mean / when up against a background screen”.
Joshua McClanahan plays electric bass with unholy skill and deserves a residency all on his own. Teplin is an accomplished pianist, but lacks prowess in the instrumental sections, and while McClanahan’s glorious bass adds a huge amount to the music, shifting between acoustic pop and percussive funk with effortless ease, it shows up Teplin’s chordal piano. Teplin’s switch to sparkling, finger-picked guitar in a few songs including “City Bird” makes for a great contrast in timbre and texture. Eli Cherry’s drums brings it all together with a great pop-rock feel and some very impressive solos.
Teplin sounds great just singing solo with the grand piano. When the bass and drums kick in, he needs to switch to amplified keyboard, but it still sounds fresh and natural. The style slowly shifts in this way from the more contemplative to the more party-pleasing, so the marathon four hour set (with two 30-min breaks) is full of variety. This is a really special gig, and all the more special for being in Dubai. Go and see Eli and the gang on New Year’s Eve if you can; it’ll be quite the party.
Eli Teplin continues his residence Tue-Fri 9pm-1am and Sat 8pm-12am, until 6 January, 2018. Free entry.