Tim Garland with the Weather Walker trio, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London

From June 2018. At the Edition festival this was an unusual lunchtime opportunity to hear the ex-Chick Corea saxophonist Tim Garland along with Jason Rebello (formerly with Sting and Jeff Beck) and the distinguished jazz and classical Russian double …

Published: 1 Dec 2019. Updated: 3 years.

From June 2018. At the Edition festival this was an unusual lunchtime opportunity to hear the ex-Chick Corea saxophonist Tim Garland along with Jason Rebello (formerly with Sting and Jeff Beck) and the distinguished jazz and classical Russian double bassist Yuri Goloubev (Gwilym Simcock).

The trio date chimed with the release of landmark release Weather Walker and took place during the Edition label’s 10th anniversary festival. The album also features a large string section and star German pianist Pablo Held who was also appearing at the club later in the day, the album recorded in Studios 1 and 3 of Abbey Road. “Movie magic (but not as we know it!),” Garland has described it.

Full of interest imbued as it is with an English sense of melancholy and the blue sky of the endless horizons of contemporary jazz inspired by the English Cumbrian lake district and the intricacies of Garland’s compositional and arranging skill heard for instance earlier in his career on The New Crystal Silence, the title track of the new album was kept to last tucked in right at the end of the second set – and what a gloriously dark mood it conveys certainly one full of thought provoking reflection.

Earlier we also heard a fine composition by Jason Rebello called ‘Pearl’ featured on the pianist’s 2016 album Held but for me it was ‘Black Elk’ from Garland’s orchestral record Libra that was the pick of the concert.

Garland chose a variety of reeds instruments, soprano sax most significantly. His bass clarinet playing (“the random note generator” as he referred to the instrument jestingly) was colourful. Judicious use of electronics were fed into the sound for extra space during the set and his tenor playing was magisterial.

Rebello was on fine optimistic form, and his style now is certainly his own. His main influences of notably Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter have long since been assimilated and distilled into a driving style where harmonic accompaniment is lifted into solo space and you cannot see where the seams are.

Goloubev I suppose stole the show in a way without grandstanding. He was at the heart of the trio sound in several ways. Garland mentioned his arco capabilities borne from the double bassist’s classical orchestral background in Moscow and his musicianship is unerringly used in the service of the beauty of the music.

I first heard Garland in the 1990s when he played in the folk jazz group Lammas which featured the acclaimed poet Don Paterson who played guitar and singer Christine Tobin. The folk side of Garland’s writing has not left him and I suppose makes his music English in certain nuanced ways and adds to his specific compositional profile. Garland is also able to share the pulse across the trio and allows space for each of the instruments to contribute without distracting at all.

The set drew on the contrapuntal chamber jazz of Acoustic Triangle a little too. A tender gig full of character by three masters at work and play. (Text + pic: Stephen Graham)

Tim Garland among family and friends above at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London.

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Liam Browne interview

From 2018. marlbank: On Morton Feldman and his work with Beckett how is Neither for you distinct from Words and Music in terms of tone and mood? Liam Browne: Neither was written for a solo high soprano voice and the text is stretched across a one …

Published: 1 Dec 2019. Updated: 2 years.

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From 2018.

marlbank: On Morton Feldman and his work with Beckett how is Neither for you distinct from Words and Music in terms of tone and mood?

Liam Browne: Neither was written for a solo high soprano voice and the text is stretched across a one hour-long period making the text indistinct whereas every word in Words and Music is accounted for and is spoken rather than sung. Different genres of course, one is prose/short story and the other a play. Beckett didn’t approve of one genre being transferred into another which is why in our rendering of neither on bespoke billboards we are treating the billboards as the page.

marlbank: The text seems very fitting for the project given the Brexitian inferno we are entering and the perils of our geography. When did you read it for the first time and what did you enjoy most about it?

Liam Browne: The text is indeed fitting for a border location, a limbo-land, because it is a very liminal text. It was Seán [Doran] who first came across it and when he was Artistic Director and CEO of English National Opera he commissioned the American choreographer Merce Cunningham to stage it with his dance company at ENO, the Festival d’Automne in Paris and at the Lincoln Center in New York. Unfortunately Seán resigned from ENO before it could happen but it did transpose into another work by Cunningham and the artist Robert Rauschenberg.

marlbank: A word about Martin McDonagh as the idea is I am guessing a riff on his recent film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Perhaps there is more a Friel comparison to be made with his work in the theatre eg The Beauty Queen of Leenane, would you say?

Liam Browne: To give credit where it’s due, Seán had the idea before the film came out. But the film of course gave the project a title that people recognised. As for McDonagh and Friel, I don’t feel there’s a strong connection. Synge of course is the obvious influence on McDonagh. With Friel so much is internal, language is what matters, whereas McDonagh’s work is much more physical.

marlbank: How do you see the style of McDonagh fitting in with Beckett, or for that matter W. B. Yeats in the tradition of Irish playwrights?

Liam Browne: The connection that comes to mind between Beckett and McDonagh is that their work can be very stylised at times, something is very definitely being enacted on stage. But violence in Beckett is internalised, it’s there as a hint, a threat, whereas with McDonagh it’s all there in front of you.

marlbank: The ‘more’ bit in your project is intriguing. In other words more of what?

Liam Browne: I wouldn’t read too much into that. ‘More’ in the sense of more than three billboards, nothing else.

marlbank: Finally on Yeats’ ‘The Tower’: how does his sense of “absurdity” and “a fading gleam” for you contrast to Beckett’s?

Liam Browne: ‘The Tower’ of course was the inspiration for Beckett’s television play ……but the clouds…. which we’re also screening in the festival as part of The Devenish Triptych. Yeats and Beckett share a certain melancholy and as they both aged a fascination with the body/mind duality, the mind as sharp as ever but the body beginning to fail.