Feature/Interview

Tim Garland (Garland/Locke/Simcock All Star Trio, Pizza Express Dean Street, 15 February and other 2020 projects)

Saxophonist Tim Garland has a range of very different projects for this year, and is looking forward in particular to a one-off trio appearance with Joe Locke and Gwilym Simcock. Interview by Sebastian: 

LondonJazz News: You had a band called Storms/Nocturnes, and your trio for 15 February looks quite similar..?

Tim Garland: This concert on 15 February is special because it is not the re-forming of any band but rather a one-off encounter, we billed it as Garland/Locke/Simcock All Star Trio. Yes it has the same line up of saxophones/ vibes/ piano as the old trio, and I’ve always loved the challenge of trios.

LJN: And all three of you have written pieces?

Tim Garland, Joe Locke and Gwilym Simcock. Publicity photos

TG: I asked Gwil and Joe to send in three pieces each, as I have done, so its very democratic! It is such a pleasure to bring musicians of the calibre of Joe and Gwilym together, there is so much deep understanding of so much music, which is assumed, we don’t have to talk through every detail.

LJN: The trio Storms/ Nocturnes has been around intermittently since 2000. How did the name come about and is there a particular aesthetic that it represents?

TG: What I know will be present in this trio encounter is the same quality that abounded in the Storms/Nocturnes Trio which is the ability to play very intricate and lyrical music, with the transparency that this very acoustic combination of instruments offers, with a huge amount of groove-centred energy. Those two opposites inspired the name Storms/Nocturnes.

LJN: A very astute review of  the album VIA picked up Geoffrey Keezer’s quote about “the perceived and over-hyped chasm between American and European Jazz”. Any thoughts on that now, nine years later?

TG: I think Geoffrey was right on the money, it is a function of the kind of minds we have, to create order through labelling and packaging things, and we live in a world where we all have to flash our labels about! Scratch the surface of that “Euro vs. USA” jazz argument and it gets so bombarded by contradictions and exceptions these days that it can do the music a disservice. There is a place for it in archiving the history of the music for sure, and anyone who knows the history of jazz would be foolish to disrespect or downplay its roots.

The musicians I love working with the most have a very broad understanding of musical history but in a way which is truly visceral; listen to the way Jason Rebello plays, for example, there is such a deep sense of the beat.

LJN: For you in 2020 this is the first of quite a few new and continuing projects. What else is coming up?

TG: My next gig is on 31 January with the Guildhall Big Band featuring eight of my pieces, including arrangements from Weather Walker, and the award-winning ONE album of 2016.

The Guildhall is where I studied many years ago and this will be the first time I’ve worked with the big band for many years. In the set is also an arrangement of mine of a Chick Corea classic, Windows.

The discipline of jazz soloists playing in a big band was stressed to me many years ago by Joe Lovano. The astute attention to phrasing, articulation and the minutiae of good ensemble playing results in a greater awareness of the whole band when you are soloing and a broader tonal palette as you express yourself.

It is also, of course, helping maintain a rich and living tradition of music making. I heard NYJO at Ronnie’s on 8 January (I sponsor Tom Barford’s chair); this is a band we should be talking about more; lots of new compositions. Charlie Bates, associate composer, is a true talent. It is also the place where skills are honed to cope with those needed in our recording industry and let’s not forget just what a big player the UK is here in the film music world. I’m delighted to get my own music played with the Guildhall School students who will be amongst that next generation of performers.

LJN: And other projects? 

TG: There is also the release of the album Re-Focus in July. This follows on from Weather Walker. The inspiration was Stan Getz’ Focus album from the early ’60s. A cult hit and Stan’s favourite of his own recordings, it features the chamber string ensemble writing of Eddie Sauter, which Stan
improvises over in free wheeling style. I take fragments of some of these improvisations and use them as tiny motifs to grow new compositions. It has been a fascinating process to see how such a hybrid, sometimes eccentric form of music has evolved over nearly 60 years.

I preserve some of the dreamy, psychedelic atmosphere of the source material (emphasised by having a harp featured in the ensemble), but having Asaf Sirkis and Yuri Goloubev supporting me as soloist leads to plenty of punch and risk-taking at times. The most famous piece from the original album is I’m Late, based loosely on the Disney tune. This I notated exactly including Stan’s solo, and this opens the album by way of a homage to the original.

The premier of this work ReFocus, was to a full house at the Wigmore Hall in 2016. We are still working on the cover shot, but me wearing 1960s attire with matching side-burns is not going to happen…

LJN: And a revival of Acoustic Triangle?

TG: Yes another of the trios! Unbelievably it is 20 years since this ensemble was first formed, and Malcolm Creese has organised a string of UK dates for myself and Gwilym to rejoin him this June.
Please keep an eye on www.timgarland.com as the dates get confirmed.

And there is  a Weather Walker Trio concert on 6 Feb at Cedar Room in Wells. The cathedral school string orchestra will join us in a few pieces from the Weather Walker album.

LINKS: 31 January, Guildhall Jazz Orchestra

15 February, Garland/Locke/Simcock All-Star Trio

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