L5, after Roger
Scott Fowler talked with Danny Jones recently about the future of L5 after Roger Bennett. I daresay the question on everyone’s mind got the shortest (and least detailed) treatment.
SN: Will the group be seeking another pianist?
The question is, of course, who? Seems to me the logical thing, if you’re Fowler (who I assume is now the sole owner of the group), is to do everything in your power to convince Tim Parton, who has been filling in on and off for a while now with L5 when Bennett was too sick to travel, to stay on at least for the next 3-6 months. Indeed, Parton strikes me as a fine permanent L5 pianist, should he be open to the idea. When I’ve seen Parton with the group, he’s been a nice fit. A talented player who, thanks to years of experience in the studio, has the understated self-confidence of someone with nothing to prove and so would be less likely to get caught in the “comparisons to Roger” trap – a sure loser every time for anyone.
It’s SOP to say that someone can’t be replaced, and usually that’s the case because it’s true. In this case, though, such stock phrasing fails to capture the enormity of Bennett’s loss to the group as a performer and emcee, to say nothing of personal relationships he left behind. I was never convinced he was cut out for vocal work, but he was a force of musical omniscience in the group, commanding nearly all aspects of the L5 sound and appearance: arrangements, keyboards, no little amount of songwriting, vocalist, and of course, the emcee full of genuinely funny comic relief.
I’m not suggesting L5 can’t go on without Bennett. The truth is, of course, they’ve been learning to work without him on and off for some time now. But no matter, Bennett’s was and is the kind of influence that will define the group’s identity and appeal for some time to come. For the next year or two, I imagine (if not longer), fans will expect L5 to keep Bennett’s memory alive from the stage in a variety of ways, similar in spirit if not precisely in kind to what the group has had to learn to do in the past years when Bennett had to take a leave from the road. This makes Parton all the more logical for the short and, if possible, immediate longer-term, as he has been a part of the group during these last few difficult years already. Stability is key in these kinds of interregnums, when the foreseeable future will be as much about reconciling with the past as transitioning to what’s next. Such a transition will have to come, inevitably, at some point, and potentially bring with it changes in one direction or another that might right now seem imponderable (indeed, I won’t be surprised if someone blasts me for being disloyal to Bennett and his memory for writing as much as I have). But if you’re L5 (or their fans), there’s no reason to rush.
Update: Just to close the loop on this, and to give me the satisfaction of reading the tea leaves mostly right, I’ll note what most of you probably already know by now: Parton is the permanent L5 pianist.Email this Post