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British musicians like pianist Michael Garrick inhabit the grey area between the energetic, if somewhat derivative realms of Johnny Dankworth and Tubby Hayes that preceded them and the much more advanced, if undervalued, contributions of the John Surman, Keith Tippett and Spontaneous Music Ensemble circles that followed. What guys like Garrick had was a supportive recording industry that put out many of their records, possibly because the music was moving too fast for executives to be selective.
However the downside of the grey area is that recordings such as these two by Garrick from 1966 and 1964 respectively do not hold up as well as what came before or after. This is not the fault of the musicians - players like Joe Harriott, Shake Keane, Coleridge Goode, Tony Coe - who are quite accomplished; Indeed Michael Garrick himself was usually the highpoint of recordings with the Don Rendell/Ian Carr groups. The music is advanced and well-played but does not transcend era like prototypical bop or ahead-of-its-time avant-garde. Black Marigolds in particular suffers from a hokey poetic element that overshadows what is otherwise nice composing. Still the celeste on "Spiders is a creepy highlight.
The earlier session (October Woman a full LP and Wedding Hymn an EP initially titled Anthem) stands up much better. A fully instrumental program (except for the EP segment) from a working band, the tunes are solid enthusiastic post-bop, colored by a British tonal aesthetic and featuring Harriott and Keane's marvelous playing, particularly on "Anthem .
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Webster's Mood; Jazz for Five; Good Times; Spiders; Ursula; A Jazz Nativity; Black Marigolds; What Are Little Girls?; Carolling.
Personnel: Michael Garrick: piano; Coleridge Goode: bass; Colin Barnes: drums; Joe Harriott: alto-sax; Shake Keane: trumpet;
Tracks: Seven Pillars; Little Girl; Sweet and Sugary Candy; Blue Scene; Anthem; Return of an Angel; Sketches of Israel; October Woman; Echoes; Fairies of Oneiros; Anthem; Wedding Hymn.
Personnel: Michael Garrick: piano; Coleridge Goode: bass; Colin Barnes: drums; Joe Harriott: alto-sax; Shake Keane: trumpet; Simon Preston: organ.