Tim Garland and Jason Rebello ‘Life to Life’ London Launch
(St Martin-in-the-Fields. 21 January 2023. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
We the audience – Tim Garland explained – would be hearing a trio rather than a duo, with the building as the third member of the group. St Martin-in-the-Fields (almost full last night) with its grandeur, its location just 200 yards from the geographical centre of London, does indeed set a tone and bring a very strong sense of occasion, and that was just right for this London launch of the album ‘Life to Life’ (Whirlwind Recordings). But there is more to it than that: the church also has a fine, resonant acoustic. Musicians give their sound into it, the sentient building takes care of the rest.
That was particularly the case in the prelude to “Moon River”. Tim Garland ducked his head under the lid of Steinway to play, while Jason Rebello merely rested his right foot on the sustain pedal, allowing the curlicues of saxophone sound to find their way into every corner of the church. It was a fine moment among many.
This pair of musicians are good friends who have known each other for three decades, and their mutual respect is plain to see. Most of the ten pieces on the new album ‘Life to Life’ have gone way beyond the head/choruses/head forms of jazz. What we hear are more episodic, multi-movement, suite-like structures, in which the pair are constantly setting themselves the challenge to land in another new and different mood, feel or tempo. There was one particular solo piano episode near the middle of Tim Garland’s “One Morning” where Jason Rebello was left to find the particular kind of complete flow and repose that is perhaps unique to him. Just glorious.
Tim Garland does have an astonishing facility, work-rate and achievement as a composer, which the pianist compared with typical (if unconvincing) self-deprecation against his own efforts. The reality is that a collaboration like this seems to spur both musicians to greater heights. For example, Rebello described the circumstances of a tight deadline in which he composed the joyful tune which became “The Missing Ingredient!”. What struck me was quite how naturally English and appealing that composing voice is, with its roots somewhere in the world of John Ireland and Gerald Finzi.
As a reeds player of three different instruments (tenor and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet), Tim Garland is particularly adept in finding subtone to accompany the piano almost spectrally. It is something the German/Austrian player Klaus Gesing does, but Garland seems to have developed the range and palette of different sounds for that context, on soprano in particular. Another remarkable aspect of his playing which was very much to the fore last night is the melodic integration of the altissimo range of the tenor sax. It is something which often gets commented on with Joshua Redman’s playing, but Garland uses it in a different way: he makes it sing out more strongly; it is very individual and special.
This concert actually pre-dates the launch of the album and there are more tour dates for the album.
Friday, 27 January Shrewsbury School
Thursday, 23 February Dora Stoutzker Hall, Cardiff
Saturday, 4 March Wiltshire Music Centre
Soul Resonance (Garland)
Two to Go (Garland)
Fire of Benevolence (Rebello)
Moon River (Mancini)
The Missing Ingredient (Rebello)
Black Is The Colour (Of My True Love’s Hair) (folksong)
No Hope, No Tears (Rebello)
How Deep is the Ocean (Irving Berlin)
One Morning (Garland)
Bright New Year (Garland)
Samaii for Peace (Garland)
Encore: As Free as the River (Rebello)
Categories: Live review