23 January 2007


A great bit of British Jazz from 1973 from Michael Garrick on Argo.
2 to get-HERE & HERE.
Have a read of the sleeve notes by Alun Morgan:
Michael Garrick's music is a masterly synthesis of head and heart. It possesses sufficient freedom in the general structure to allow for spur-of-the-moment extensions but at the same time the compositions have strong individualities. "These are the not 'definitive' performances" maintains Garrick. "The passages of collective improvisation, for example, are entirely open." It is symptomatic of jazz, which grew up alongside the development of the gramophone, that audiences are frequently disappointed if their idols fail to produce "live" performances identical to a version on record. The stories are legion; the late Coleman Hawkins went through life trying to ward off repeated requests for Body And Soul while Flip Phillips actually had to learn his own Perdido solo from a Jazz At The Philharmonic record in order to satisfy the customers.
But jazz music has moved on. In the days of the Don Rendell-Ian Carr Quintet I must have heard a dozen versions of Michael's Dusk Fire, all different in length and degrees of intensity. All, however, retained the strongly individual essence of a Garrick composition. Over the years his own band has built up an impressive library which centres around his writing, writing which is frequently challenging but never needlessly complex. If a work uses an unusual time signature it has not been adopted just for the sake of being clever but because it is integral with the melodic line or conjures up the right kind of atmosphere. Garrick's band is made up of perfectionists. He first heard Norma Winstone with the New Jazz Orchestra in 1966 and her sheer musicianship moved him to add words to melodies he had already written. Norma liked the results and sang them. "Since then" says Garrick "she has coped with my most outrageous pieces with marvellous patience and sympathy. She brings dignity to whatever she does." Clearly Norma has a tremendous amount of music to offer and it is an experience to see her singing a complex line as part of a theme statement, reading from a score and flanked by Lowther and Themen. She has elevated the status of jazz singer to new heights.
Henry Lowther is, quite simply, one of the very finest trumpeters Europe has produced for years; he has a mellow tone and can always be relied upon to produce the most apt and melodic turn of phrase at the most telling moments. His violin playing is equally impressive and his work here on Overtones Of A Forgotten Music is masterly. Art Themen has steadily developed into a readily identifiable soloist capable of bringing his own musical personality to bear on Garrick's writing. The books tell us that thew tenor saxophone has a range which extends up to D, a ninth above middle C, but Art has always been a "high harmonics" man, capable of extending the top register with beautifully controlled "off-the-instrument" notes. Listen to his superlative solo on Sons Of Art where he cruises around note clusters normally the prerogative of alto saxophonists or clarinettists.
The rest of the Michael Garrick Band comprises men previously associated with the Rendell-Carr Quintet, including Don himself; Rendell is far more than just a father figure; he is a great musician who has justly earned the respect of all who have heard him. Dave Green and Trevor Tomkins make up one of the most cohesive bass/drums teams and form the backbone of Garrick's working units. Trevor is a highly creative drummer who listens intently to the work of his colleagues and shades the volume of his contribution accordingly. Dave Green plays a big part in Michael's music: apart from providing the reliable fulcrum in the rhythm section he has also been responsible for important secondary themes or first lines to several Garrick compositions. Coleridge Goode, who solos on Fellow Feeling, has long been associated with Garrick's and Joe Harriott's music. He was a founder member of the musicianly Ray Ellington Quartet back in 1947, a unit which mixed comedy with bop tunes such as Swedish Pastry.
Troppo!, which opens the album, is in 13/8 and 13/4. Dave Green wrote both the slow and fast bass figures plus the opening melody and chose the title. "Non troppo" is frequently to be found on classical music scores as part of a warning; it means "not too much." Dave Green dropped the negative to make it mean "too much" and the 1944-vintage New Cab Calloway's Hepster Dictionary defined "too much" in the jazz sense as a "term of the highest praise." Dave dedicated the tune to Norma. To Henry A Son was written for the birth of Boris Lowther in August 1972. Lowther Senior plays the flugelhorn solo. Garrick wrote Lime Blossom in the long, hot summer of 1973; Norma Winstone added the words and Michael completed the ethereal effect by borrowing a Fender piano for this performance.
Sons Of Art is in 15/4 and is dedicated to Themen's two sons. On the day of the session Art was over an hour late getting to the studio due to his duties on the staff of a Reading Hospital. It says a great deal for Themen's composure under pressure and all-round musicianship that he created this solo in just one take, packed up his tenor and returned to the operating theatre. His friend and frequent musical companion Dave Gelly describes him as "Art Themen, the man who does everything the other way!" I know what Dave means for this is a unique solo, full of unexpected turns of phrase.
Fellow Feeling is probably the most moving piece of music-making on the LP. It is dedicated to the late Joe Harriott, the brilliant alto saxophonist who joined Michael Garrick's group for "Poetry And Jazz In Concert" in 1963 and stayed for four years. I remember hearing Joe playing at one of his very first London dates in 1951. He had just arrived in Britain from Jamaica, and appeared with trumpeter Pete Pitterson's band at a concert held in the Kingsway Hall. He went on to become one of the best, and best-known, jazz saxophonists in the country with an enquiring mind which took him into all manner of musical surroundings. In 1959 he began working on what he called "Free Form" jazz but he never closed his ears to other forms of his music. He frequently sat in with Chris Barber's band, and thoroughly enjoyed it. In August 1972 he collapsed in Southampton and was rushed into hospital with cancer. Themen and Garrick went to visit him and were shocked by his appearance but Joe had plans for when he recovered, even if he felt that he was already something of a forgotten figure. Sadly, he died in January 1973 and for this musical valediction his friend Coleridge Goode takes the bass solo following Don Rendell's beautiful flute passage. Garrick plays Hohner piano on this track. The closing Overtones Of A Forgotten Music, principally in 7/8 but with slower passages in common time, features Henry Lowther (violin) and Norma Winstone improvising a melody to words taken from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The titles is actually a line from a poem of John Smith's and Garrick describes the piece as "a kind of hymn to the sort of world those words of Shakespeare's describe."ALUN MORGAN1973 : liner notes to TROPPO [Michael Garrick, October 1973]
Ripped at 320 from the impressed cd re-issue.


Iain said...

This sounds great...thanks.

El Swami Hermitus Solus said...

Do i have that ?!? Maybe not !
Sound Great...


El Swami

Jon Turney said...

One of many nice things about this band is that they are all still active after all this time. In fact, they reunited briefly in London last year for a tribute gig to Ian Carr. Art Themen, in particular, is probably playing better than ever these days.

unitstructure said...

Thanks for sharing this recording.Love it when Norma Winstone's voice is used as another horn.

Munnnnnph said...

a little late with gratitude, but played this while having my morning coffee and was blown away. thanks for the share.