|L-R: The Sacconi String Quartet, Thomas Gould, Yuri Goloubev
Tim Garland Asaf Sirkis
Photo credit: Nadja von Massow
Tim Garland Trio / Sacconi Quartet / Thomas Gould Celebrating Stan Getz and Chick Corea (Wigmore Hall. 16th November 2016. EFG London Jazz Festival. Review by AJ Dehany)
Third-stream music is in rude health in 2016, so called for its bringing together jazz and classical vocabulary, forms and techniques. We’re blessed with jazz composers like Julian Joseph and Kate Williams, and bands like Partikel in their String Theory incarnation, taking inspiration from both realms, and contemporary classical composers like Louis Andriessen perking their works up with jazz. One of the most acclaimed figures in this fertile area is saxophonist, orchestrator and composer Tim Garland.
At the Wigmore Hall during the 2016 London Jazz Festival Garland presented a mixed ensemble with a jazz rhythm section of Yuri Goloubev on double bass and Asaf Sirkis on a hybrid light percussion kit, and from the classical world the bright young Sacconi Quartet augmented by violinist Thomas Gould, an incredible soloist whose improvisations shared the advanced harmonic language of classical harmony with a gusto and vitality recalling the best gypsy jazz.
The concert was a celebration of Stan Getz and Chick Corea. Following a perky trio rendition of Monk’s Bemsha Swing, the first set found the ensemble exploring Chick Corea compositions “Armando’s Rhumba”, Anna’s Tango and Windows, and as the centrepiece an astonishing and emotionally devastating reworking of Crystal Silence.
Crystal Silence is one of Chick’s most famous pieces, which Garland has arranged many times. He did five of the arrangements for The New Crystal Silence with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra which was released in 2008 and won a Grammy. As Garland tells it, he asked Chick to play a completely free improvisation as an introduction to the tune, which he then wrote down and scored. He was encouraged by Chick to be liberal with re-orchestration and harmonisation. Garland’s orchestration at the Wigmore Hall made the best use of the ensemble with searing strings and Garland on soprano.
The second set presented Re:focus, a new suite by Garland. Focus (1961) is Stan Getz’s album with writer Eddie Sauter for strings without a standard rhythm section. Salter took the unique decision not to have a written part for the soloist. Getz’s melodic improvisations, recorded after the strings, and following the death of his mother, bear an emotional charge that endures. Getz said Focus was his favourite of his own albums, and it’s one of those slightly overlooked classics.
Re:focus is Garland’s reworking of this album fifty-six years on. The first movement It’s Late (originally It’s late, it’s late) peppers the Disney theme into angular and urgent writing for the strings heavily indebted to the composer Bela Bartok. Garland has transcribed it note for note. The subsequent movements of Re:focus are essentially new works based in homage to the originals. Interviewed on BBC Radio 3 in the run up to the debut concert performance of Re:focus (LINK) Garland noted that while the pieces are composed and unchanging, improvisation adds a “cat among the pigeon element that ensures each performance is different and vital.”
An encore performance of It’s late illustrated this vitality, revisiting the material of the opener but this time improvising without the transcription. It’s almost a different piece, and it’s thrilling to hear both in one concert. Whether or not we call it third-stream, the conversation between jazz and classical, improvisation and composition, is more exciting than ever in 2016. As Garland says “the old feeling of oil and water doesn’t seem to exist any more.”