226

Michael Garrick Sextet with Norma Winstone: The Heart is a Lotus

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Michael Garrick Sextet with Norma Winstone: The Heart is a Lotus With a resurgence of interest in what many call the "Golden Years of British jazz—the mid-'60s through early '70s—labels like Vocalion are helping to fill in the blanks on the period when a specifically British sound began asserting itself, in contrast to the America-centric music of prior decades. While the music of emergent artists like saxophonist John Surman and trumpeter Ian Carr exhibits clear stylistic precedents from across the pond, there's also something indefinably British there, too—perhaps a hint of pastoral British folk filtered through a touch of impressionist classical sensibility, or perhaps a clear romanticism which was not a major factor in the freer jazz developments in the US at this point in time.

Pianist Michael Garrick was a member of the mid to late-'60s Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet, whose albums have been reissued in recent times. These players also participated in an '02 reunion and corresponding album, Reunion. But while Garrick was a key member of that group, he also released a series of his own recordings throughout the same period. The Heart is a Lotus is one of the more distinctive ones, because it expressed his interest in the confluence of words and music. At the time he was an organizer of an ongoing series of performances called "Poetry and Jazz in Concert ; the poetry on The Heart is a Lotus concerns itself, amongst other things, with death and the end of relationships.

Heavy stuff. But while some of the subject matter is dire, the music is anything but. The core group—Garrick on piano and a rather dated-sounding harpsichord; Ian Carr on trumpet and flugelhorn; Art Themen on woodwinds; and Trevor Tomkins on drums—expands to a sextet with the occasional addition of Jim Philip and Don Rendell (woodwinds) and Dave Green or Coleridge Goode (bass). The music ranges from the dark but swinging 11/8 title track to the lyrical ballad "Song by the Sea. With its saxophone/trumpet front line and upbeat hard bop swing, "Torrent sounds like something out of the Art Blakey repertoire, while "Temple Dancer suggests an interest in Middle Eastern music.

But the presence of vocalist Norma Winstone is what gives this session its real distinction. Still in her twenties, Winstone's soft and nimble voice—combined with her ability to navigate challenging melodies with ease and improvise wordlessly in a way that was antithetical to her more outgoing and athletic counterparts in the US—demonstrated a personal approach that was already well-formed at this early stage.

While the lyrical content of The Heart is a Lotus feels dated, the playing on the recording remains remarkably fresh. It's a shame that so many of the British players on the scene never reached acclaim beyond their own country, but hopefully reissues like this one will introduce them to a larger audience that, given the global reach of the internet, will extend beyond geographic borders.


Track Listing: The Heart is a Lotus; Song by the Sea; Torrent; Temple Dancer; Blues on Blues; Voices; Beautiful Thing; Rustat's Grave Song.

Personnel: Art Themen: flute, clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones; Jim Philip: flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone; Don Rendell: flute, soprano and tenor saxophone; Ian Carr: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Green: bass; Coleridge Goods: bass; Trevor Tomkins: drums; Michael Garrick: piano, harpsichord; Norma Winstone: voice.

Title: The Heart is a Lotus | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Vocalion


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Jinja" CD/LP/Track Review Jinja
by James Nadal
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987" CD/LP/Track Review Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987
by John Kelman
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "The Dead Man" CD/LP/Track Review The Dead Man
by James Nadal
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Angry Waves Vol.1&2" CD/LP/Track Review Angry Waves Vol.1&2
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 30, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.