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Instead of simply homing in on one specific musical coordinate, saxophonist Matt Garrison decided to widen his focus and hit a few different targets with his third album. The aptly-titled Patchwork finds him looking toward "initial musical influence, educational influences, and current outcomes." It's a collection of Garrison's personalized yesterday-meets-today musical scenarios.
It's hard to know whether Patchwork should be defined as a vocal record with strong instrumental appeal or an instrumental album with a vocalist out front on the majority of the material; in all truth, it's better not to define it at all. Garrison simply delivers a balanced program of originals and covers that highlights his wide-ranging interests, arranging and composing skills, and saxophone work. He shares the spotlight on most of the material with vocalist Melissa Morgan, who's in fine form throughout, and a good number of his musician friends.
The program moves in surprising directions, as Garrison tips his cap to such unlikely house mates as über-hip singer-songwriter Beck ("Lonesome Tears") and trumpeter Lee Morgan ("Ceora"), but it all works for one simple reason: Garrison's eclecticism is matched by his ability to weave disparate elements together. Garrison addresses a balance between dark and light on "How Can I Be Sure?," tackles Don McLean's "Vincent" in loyal-yet-revitalized fashion, and delivers a wind-textured "Ceora." Melissa Morgan sits out on occasion, as on the cheery and solo-filled "Steppin' Up (And Steppin' Around") and the easy-waltzing "Open To Your Advances," but she's the focal point on much of this material. Garrison proves to be a monster player, whether cooking on soprano ("How Can I Be Sure?") or oozing soul on tenor ("When Eyes Meet"), but he's not an attention hog; plenty of other players, from pianist Nial Djuliarso to trumpeter Bruce Harris, get a chance to shine on the enjoyable Patchwork.
Track Listing: How Can I Be Sure?; Steppin' Up (And Steppin' Around); Vincent; When Eyes Meet; Ceora; Fall For Me; Lonesome Tears; Open To Your Advances; First Flight.
Personnel: Matt Garrison: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute (8); Melissa Morgan: vocals; Bruce Harris: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mark Williams: trombone; Nial Djuliarso: piano; Yasushi Nakamura: bass; Scott Neumann: drums; Jay Azzolina: guitar; Andrew Swift: fretless electric bass; Jessica Aura Taskov: flute; Gizmordio Twizzletwackle: alto flute; Veroslav Taskov: oboe; David DeJesus: clarinet; Steven Kieley: bass clarinet.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.