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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Global Mix GM2CD03



CD1 (Sun)
1. The Eyes Of Ages
2. Hang Loose
3. Arabesque For Three
4. Frontier - Pt. 1 SunGod
5. Pt. 2 Moongod
6. Pt. 3 On Sungod
7. Pt. 4 Libra
8. Old Man Winter
CD2 (Moon)
1. Blue In Green
2. Bajo Del Sol
3. Darkhouse
4. Sly Eyes
5. Black Elk
6. Break In The Weather
7. Nostalgia In Times Square.
Tim Garland - Tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, bass flute
Gwilym Simcock - Piano
Asaf Sirkis - Percussion set, hang drum, udu, frame drums
Paul Bollenback - Guitar (CD1 tracks 2, 8, CD2 track 7 )
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Tim Garland (CD1 tracks 4-7)
Sacconi Strings (CD2 track 3)

Tim Garland must be one of the busiest musicians in Britain. Besides this trio, he is involved with numerous other groups, including the trio Acoustic Triangle, the Underground Orchestra (a big band) and Tim's Bach Project. He has played with such jazz celebrities as Chick Corea, Bill Bruford and Joe Locke, as well as composing several orchestral works.

All these experiences feed into this double CD, which is a mixture of various styles. In fact jazz seems one of the less prominent styles in the mix, which is often closer to classical music than jazz. This is particularly true of the first CD, much of which is occupied by a four-movement suite called Frontier, in which the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays a major role. Indeed, in the first movement - Sungod - the trio seems to be entirely absent. They are more apparent in the second movement, where pianist Gwilym Simcock gets to play a solo cadenza, backed by Asaf on the Nigerian udu drum, before being joined by Garland's soprano sax, while the RPO lays out for a while. In the third movement, the orchestra's function seems to be primarily to clap their hands in rhythm behind Garland's swirling tenor sax. Then the ensemble squeals a noisy introduction to another Simcock cadenza. The orchestra dominates in the final movement (the title-track), although Gwilym, Tim and Asaf get some exposure. However, Asaf Sirkis is very much in the background throughout most of the first CD, adding only some largely ineffectual beats.

The rest of the tracks on the first CD allow Garland and Simcock to display their considerable techniques, yet I still have difficulty connecting their improvisations to the nebulous themes they are supposedly improvising on. If this doesn't matter to you, you can just sit back and enjoy their expertise and lyricism. This is certainly manifest in Old Man Winter, a pastoral piece with New York guitarist Paul Bollenback making one of three useful guest appearances.

The trio gets the second CD to itself, except for the addition of the Sacconi Strings on Darkhouse and Bollenback on Charles Mingus's Nostalgia in Times Square. Most of the CD was recorded "live" at various London venues and the sound has more presence than on the first CD. Three of the tunes are jazz standards, which may help listeners to get their bearings. Miles Davis's Blue in Green is performed rhapsodically by Tim and Gwilym. Kenny Wheeler's Sly Eyes is played as a very extrovert tango, but without much melody to grab hold of. And Nostalgia in Times Square swings along merrily.

Of Garland's original compositions on this CD, Bajo del Sol is a mysteriously twisting tune, slightly reminiscent of Chick Corea's Spain, and Darkhouse features Tim Garland on bass clarinet backed by the Sacconi Strings. Black Elk also has Tim on bass clarinet, but what on earth are the half-heard spoken voices supposed to represent? And Break in the Weather is another of those free-for-alls in which melody is subservient to technically brilliant playing.

This album will probably leave you cold if you like good tunes or jazz you can tap your foot to. It is more for the listener who likes to be thoughtful - or even (as I was) perplexed.
Tony Augarde




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