Tim GARLAND – One – Edition EDN1072, 56:11 (6/6/16) ***:
(TIm Garland; soprano and tenor saxophone/ Asaf Sirkis; drums & percussion/ Jason Rebello; piano, keyboards/ Ant Law; nylon string guitar and 12 & 8-string guitar)
Energetic tenor playing on a muddled, fusion-flavored session.
I first encountered Tim Garland as part of an unusual but fine trio which consisted of Geoff Keezer on piano, Joe Locke on vibraphone, and Mr. Garland on tenor and soprano saxophones. Playing in a chastened, post-bop idiom, these musicians employed both brains and brawn. The tenor playing made a most agreeable impression. Thus, I was happy to see Garland surface on the reputable Edition label out of England with the euphonious trio of Jason Rebello, Asaf Sirkus, and Ant Law.
The first track, Sama’i For Peace, opens up with a funky 10-beat groove with added middle-eastern percussion. The soprano makes the first solo statement with the vehemence and self-assurance of a master. The bustling rhythm section are mobilized into action by the performance, and the piece ends with a great swirl of percussive energy. Midway through, however, I discerned some extra keyboard voicings which provoked the skeptical raising of an eyebrow.
The second track, Bright New Year (sic), introduces a theme that could be right out of the song-book of the second edition of the group Oregon, effervescently vapid and upbeat, supported by a twelve-string guitar and thick piano voicings as well as the now more confident extra electronics. Overall, it is a shambles, and even the creditable soloing by the leader and some fancy piano choruses cannot save it from incoherence. The biggest offender is the 12-string guitar. Bringing it to the session may have been a youthful indiscretion but not noticing how badly it meshed with the piano was an editorial lapse.
The next two tracks show Mr. Garland’s fondness for the Weather Report legacy. There is the same mix of compositional sophistication ramped up by overly-fussy sonic detail and excessive rhythmic layers. Everyone solos with passion and chops to spare. The guitarist plays a funky eight-string guitar on which he demonstrates some Jaco Pastorius licks. Clay pot percolations, Rhodes piano, and a florid guitar solo are all moments framed by the brooding and evasive ‘Zawinul’ theme.
Prototype is unabashed fusion driven by rock beats and thickly-textured guitar and electronic keyboards. The tenor pays a longish and extroverted solo, heartily growling against the funky backbeat. It might work as audition tape if you were aiming for a position in the Dave Holland group.
The low-point in this session which never realizes its potential comes with the one-off poem by the leader set to pop vocals sung by Dionne Bennett. “Pity the Poor Arms Dealer” takes up themes related to nefarious weapon-mongers and the heartlessness towards the refugees lining the streets–evils to be sure, but as a poem and as a pop song appended to a jazz record, it is a damp squib.
The rest of the record shows a band doing its best to carry out the musical project of Mr. Garland. There are a few moments of introspection and felicitous invention by all members on the more appropriately named, The Gathering Dark. However, overall, the session has little more to recommend it other than to show us that this tenor player could command any style or musical context but might need some help in the project-management part of the business.
TrackList: Sama’i for Peace; Bright New Year; The Eternal Greeting; Colours of Night; Prototype; The Gathering Dark; Pity the Poor Arms Dealer; Foretold; Yourkay;