Home » Jazz Articles » Tim Garland: ReFocus

11
Album Review

Tim Garland: ReFocus

By

Sign in to view read count
Tim Garland: ReFocus
Strings and Tim Garland have always resonated well together. A leading figure of British jazz since the early 2000s, Garland emerged from a classical background, having studied classical composition at the Guildhall School of Music. His dual idioms have converged persuasively on albums such as If The Sea Replied (Sirocco Music Limited, 2005), Libra (Global Mix, 2009), Songs To The North Sky (Edition Records, 2014) and Weather Walker (Edition Records, 2018), with anything from chamber ensembles to full-blown orchestras shaping the saxophonist's adventurous concepts. Beyond category, these albums are touchstones of contemporary music where improvisation and extended composition meet. ReFocus continues the trend—but with one significant difference.

If Garland's orchestral colors have often reflected the influence of Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten and Henri Dutilleux as much as Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky or Béla Bartók, ReFocus pays personal homage to Stan Getz's album Focus (Verve, 1962), which featured three violins, viola and cello, and secondary roles (in the main) for pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist John Neves and drummer Roy Haynes. Composer Eddie Sauter left the melodies free for Getz to improvise, and it is an approach that Garland adopts here, basing his solos, in part, on Getz's own themes. Whereas Getz bewitched with an aching lyricism reminiscent of Lester Young on Focus, Garland's brand of romanticism is darker, more muscular and, not surprisingly, having absorbed another half century of music, more contemporary sounding.

Apart from the faithful rendition of Sauter's "I'm Late, I'm Late"—with percussionist Adam Kovacs replicating Haynes' dynamic brushwork from that 1961 session—Garland is more attuned to the spirit of adventure that Focus represented in an era when jazz would splinter into Third Stream, free improvisation and avant-garde experimentalism —a world of possibilities. Getz' embrace of strings on Focus, however, had little to do with jazz ensemble play, with the jazz musicians no more than bit-part players. By contrast, drummer Asaf Sirkis and bassist Yuri Goloubev are cornerstones of Garland's rhythmic edifice, while guest musicians John Turville on piano, and Ant Law on acoustic guitar enjoy sparkling cameos on the unreservedly cheery "Jezeppi," where Garland also shines, on soprano saxophone.

The saxophonist's virtuosity aside, it is his ability to harness the strings to conjure an array of moods and textures that most impresses. From the reflective melancholy of "The Autumn Gate" and the brooding tensions and unfolding drama of "Dream State," to the rhythmic panache of the exhilarating "Night Flight," ReFocus is an emotional journey more than anything. While the string ensemble's elegant legato phrasing, lively pizzicato and thrilling riffing score the big points, there is also devil in the detail, with harpist Lauren Scott's subtle interventions—her swirling cascades and sly pulses, the percussive splashes and moody arpeggios—coloring the arrangements significantly.

Instantly gratifying on multiple levels, ReFocus strikes a fine balance between classical sophistication, earthy rhythmic drive and improvisational flourish. To the patient, however, the music unveils its most satisfying riches—its nuances and layers—with the repeated listening that it merits.

Track Listing

I'm Late, I'm Late; Maternal; Thorn In The Evening; Dream State; Past Light; Night Flight; The Autumn Gate; Jezeppi.

Personnel

Tim Garland: saxophone; Asaf Sirkis: drums; Yuri Goloubev: bass, acoustic.

Additional Instrumentation

Tim Garland: piano; Ant Law: acoustic guitar (8); John Turville: piano (8); Thomas Gould: violin; Ben Hancox: violin; Magdalena Filipczak: violin; Rakhi Singh: violin; Simran Singh: violin; Robin Ashwell: viola; Juan-Miguel Hernandez: viola; Cecilia Bignall: cello; Lauren Scott: harp; Adam Kovacs: percussion (1-2).

Album information

Title: ReFocus | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Edition Records


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter Since 1995, shortly after the dawn of the internet, All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.