Acoustic Triangle: 3 Dimensions (2008)
Britain's Acoustic Triangle has always operated with the distinct premise of playing only in environments acoustically suited for completely acoustic performances. Recording with the same devotion to making the room a fourth member of the group, with no post-production processing, the trio has gradually shifted further away from overt jazz references, with Resonance (Audio-B, 2005) moving even closer to a place where formal composition and improvisation join. More than its earlier releases, 3 Dimensions is chamber jazz where the trio's classical upbringing weighs as heavilyperhaps even more soas the jazz vernacular.
Woodwind multi-instrumentalist Tim Garland has always led a double life, comfortable in the more actively improvisational world on Changing Seasons (Sirocco, 2004) while sliding into a classical environs on the orchestral The Mystery (Audio-B, 2007), though the latter's inlusion of solo space hinted at 3 Dimension's direction. Here, with Acoustic Triangle fleshed out to a nonet with The Sacconi Strings' four violins, viola and cello, the three suites and two single tunes are inherently based on fixed form, but solo space still abounds for Garlandwhose mellifluous and lyrically serpentine voice is recognizable, whether on saxophone, bass clarinet or fluteand pianist Gwilym Simcock, whose remarkable improvisational skills are belied both by his young age and relatively recent discovery of jazz, after spending the better part of his first twenty years occupied the classical sphere.
True to its founding premise, this expanded Acoustic Triangle's tour made even greater use of the English cathedrals it played in, with its nine members spread throughout the halls rather than linear across a stage, effectively placing the audience in the midst of a warm, natural soundscape. Despite the greater challenge of reproducing this surrounding, three dimensional audioscape on a stereo recording, bassist/producer Malcolm Creese has, with mixing assistance from Garland, Simcock and Andrew Tulloch, created an aural landscape as full and enveloping as its performances.
3 Dimensions represents another first for Acoustic Triangleall the writing is original, from Garland and Simock, though the pianist's tango-esque "Fundero" and saxophonist's poignant "The Moon For Her" have both been heard before. Still, in this string-laden context, both tunes take on greater significance. Garland's two new suitesthe five-part "Sanctuary for Living Memory" and four-part "Singing Stones"combine a broad cross-section of classical references, ranging from jaggedly contemporary to romantically impressionistic, with open passages where Garland, Simcock and Creese are featured. Simcock's three-part "Red Sky" demonstrates equal breadth, its first movement a combination of angular flute lines soaring over flittering pizzicati and Simcock's own heralding French horn.
Despite its self-imposed touring limitations, Acoustic Triangle's gradually growing discography faithfully captures an organic philosophy that's increasingly appealing in a world where sonic overload is an undesirable fact of life. Whether cerebrally challenging or emotionally accessible, 3 Dimensions captures Acoustic Triangle at a pivotal point, where two worlds no longer exist separately. Instead, classical form and improvisational freedom coalesce into a beautiful sound world of considered invention and unfettered spontaneity.
Track Listing: Sanctuary For a Living Memory: The Power of Now, For Whom, Old Timer, Ringing the Changes, All Seasons; Fundero; Red Sky: The Calm: Darkening, Overhead 1 - The Eye, Overhead 2 - Passing; Singing Stones: Awakening, Gathering, Approaching, Arriving; The Moon for Her.
Personnel: Malcolm Creese: double-bass; Tim Garland: saxophones, flute, bass clarinet, percussion; Gwilym Simcock: piano, French horn. The Sacconi Strings: Ben Hancox: violin; Hannah Dawson: violin; Charlotte Scott: violin; Emma Parker: violin; Robin Ahswell: viola; Cara Berridge: cello.