Album reviews

Tim Garland and Jason Rebello – ‘Life to Life’

Tim Garland and Jason Rebello – Life to Life

(Whirlwind Recordings – WR4799. Album review by Jon Turney)

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Duos don’t come better matched than this partnership. Tim Garland and Jason Rebello have been friends since the start of their now long careers but not worked this way before. They share classical training, jazz chops, and a leaning toward an elegant lyricism that allows their music to flow together so well that the improvised parts here still sound arranged.

Both are soulful and quick-witted, and you can hear them bringing out the best in each other. Garland isn’t a player one turns to for the unexpected, but is hard to match for beauty of execution on any of his instruments. It’s certainly hard to think of a soprano saxophone player who achieves clearer articulation or more perfect intonation. Rebello contributes plenty of rhythmic punch, and a piano touch that makes the melodies sparkle.

The concentrate on their own compositions, old and new, with four from each of them. Two standouts, though – Chick Corea’s Children’s Song No 6 (sopranino sax there) and a lovingly rendered deconstruction and reassembly of the traditional Black was the Colour that benefits from Garland’s bass clarinet – make one wonder how they would sound if they drew on a broader jazz repertoire.

Perhaps that’s for another time. Their own pieces, written or arranged with the duo in mind, give both plenty of chances to shine. Garland’s impassioned Samali for Peace, with the composer on soprano, is particularly fine. Likewise Rebello’s pleasingly melodramatic No Hope, No Tears, another bass clarinet romp with a dark side.

Brilliant piano and reeds pairings from UK players are more common than you might think – Alan Barnes and Dave Newton, Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock, Andy Sheppard and Keith Tippett, John Law and Jon Lloyd, Tony Coe and John Horler, Huw Warren and Mark Lockheart, and Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick all have duo recordings that are worth seeking out. This one takes its place in that company as a real meeting of musical minds that offers lasting value.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. Twitter:

LINKS: Live review of album launch

Tim Garland’s 2021 tribute to Chick Corea

Buy Life to Life

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