Review: Gabriel Garrick’s Originals Quintet & Standards Septet

Left to Right: Sam Walker, Gabriel Garrick, Matt Ridley

Review: Gabriel Garrick’s Originals Quintet & Standards Septet
(CD Launch, Spice of Life, London Thurs. 14th March 2013)

‘I’m a standard in my own right,’ joked trumpeter Gabriel Garrick at this launch gig for his two new CDs: Originals Quintet (Sunlight, JOVI 2) and Standards Septet (Song For My Father, JOVI 1). Garrick is steeped in jazz history, and now runs the Jazz Academy courses set up by his late father Michael Garrick.

The Originals Quintet played the first set, the compositions arranged with absorbing big band-like textures and attention to detail- Garrick also runs his own big band. The Answer is Here began with melancholy rippling piano from the excellent Will Bartlett before becoming a fast samba, bright trumpet themes interweaving with huskier tenor sax lines from Sam Walker. The solos sounded truly improvised, played for the sheer joy of playing. Garrick’s single note phrases turned into emotive rhythmic runs. Walker’s gruffer tone rooted his fast chromatic lines in simpler major phrases. Grateful began with slow sliding and rocky sus chords, before unfolding into a jazz waltz, redolent of Up Jumped Spring. There were moments in the compositions where you could hear just the ghost of a standard. There was enough familiarity to draw you in and enough newness to keep you on the edge of your seat. Everything was paced to keep you engaged. The volume dropped as Walker played incredibly fast, as if tickling the chords, yet with perfect rhythm.

Can of Ice had a fast hard-bop theme, underpinned by Matt Ridley’s rich fruity swinging bass and Bartlett’s effervescent piano solo. The mellow Latin All Because of You alluded melodically to Star Eyes and was dedicated to loved ones- even Garrick’s CD label is endearingly named after his Labrador puppy! Garrick playing smooth fluegel whole-tone phrases while Walker drew on Getz’ tone, in his expressive vibrato. Sunlight was a highlight, subtly Afro-Latin-funky; drummer Chris Nickolls played interesting mallet grooves behind compelling composed bass lines. The slow back beats of Easter Gospel concluded the set, the horns sliding up to the notes like singers- cue enormous cheer from the audience.

All change for the Standards Septet in the second half, the choice of tunes and arrangements revealing more of Garrick’s influences. His bluesy growls and trills got to the heart of Song For My Father while Martin Hathaway invoked Henderson on alto, adding expressive free squeals.

Two originals blended seamlessly with the standards: Come and See evoked Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring with its its happy, restless II V chords and crisscross horn lines. Jon Stokes’ trombone solo combined a warm chocolatey tone with fast acrobatics. Wasted Time, an ‘autobiographical piece’ written at college, conjured Silver’s Filthy McNasty. It mixed blues and swing, with Martin Kolarides’ Charlie Christian-like hard swinging guitar phrases. Garrick’s plunger mute combined cries and raunchy trills.

The heart of the set went right back to New Orleans : Down By the Riverside and Bourbon Street Parade, with a superb drum solo from Patrick Davey in the middle. His authentic grooves gave an anarchic freshness to the tunes. Peter James’ fine Dr John-like piano tremolo and Hathaway’s clarinet interwove with trombone and trumpet in a kind of chaotic joy.

Bye Bye Blues and Mood Indigo (Garrick: ‘There’s no words that can describe how beautiful this tune is in its simplicity and its divinity.’) paid dues to Ellington. As the latter tune concluded the set, there was real emotion from the bluesy soloing over the uncluttered beat, with Spencer Brown’s perfectly-placed two-to-the-bar bass. The music was created with the idea of ‘playing tunes that I like with some guys whom I love playing with,’ said Garrick. The big smiles in the audience showed we were with them all the way.

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