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Lighthouse - Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland & Asaf Sirkis CD
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THE NEW ALBUM FROM ONE OF THE UK'S PREMIER JAZZ ENSEMBLES, AND THE FIRST GWILYM SIMCOCK RELEASE SINCE HIS 2011 MERCURY NOMINATION Once upon a time ... there was a lighthouse. When Tim Garland took on a job as composer-in-residence at nearby Newcastle university he decided to buy a house - near St. Mary s Lighthouse. For his CD If The Sea Replied Garland recorded several bass clarinet solos in the lighthouse which he later orchestrated. During his work he had the idea of presenting the project live and for this he needed fellow musicians - and the Lighthouse Trio was born. Garland taught Gwilym Simcock at London s Royal Academy of Music. The Welsh pianist, whose award-winning solo album Good Days at Schloss Elmau finally gave him star status, forms together with Garland one of the most productive partnerships around (they also work in Malcolm Creese's 'Acoustic Triangle'). The Israeli conjurer of sound - drummer and percussionist in one - Asaf Sirkis quickly became one of the most interesting trendsetters of the jazz and world music scene after his move to London, including work as hand drummer in Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble. But it was for the Lighthouse Trio that he developed an especially composed drum set which is tailored for music full of rhythmic surprises, and perfect to showcase his ability to create unusual sounds. A celtic influence surfaces on some of the trio's material, unsurprising given Simcock's birthplace (Bangor, North Wales) and Tim's musical history (incl. British Folk/Jazz group 'Lammas' for many years). Strong, distinctive melodies and bounding folk-tinged rhythms underpin the music, along with many other influences from around the world and some tributes to a few of the great musicians of recent British contemporary music history. If St. Mary s Lighthouse is a genuine sight, this Lighthouse is a major aural sight - a new chapter in lighthouse history.
Tim Garland is a clever bloke; a saxophonist who can hold his own with Chick Corea or Bill Bruford, play Bach or write a concerto for the LSO as well as keeping a bunch of other projects on the go. Here he's returned to his longstanding Lighthouse Trio, now back (after several permutations) to the core of Garland, pianist Gwilym Simcock and percussionist Asaf Sirkis.
Garland's association with the prodigiously talented and much-praised Simcock goes back a long way and the pianist gets the lion's share of the writing credits here. Both share a broadly similar musical approach that's informed by a blend of fusion, folk and classical forms and the impressionism of the ECM crowd, while the formidable Sirkis seems at home in any environment.
Yet Lighthouse is a record that feels like a wasted opportunity. The trio format lends itself to intimate, conversational music, yet there's little of that here. The writing seems intent on cramming as many notes into the bar as possible, and the curiously airless, anodyne production sucks any dynamic or space from the proceedings (Sirkis' percussion seems to have suffered the most, sounding thin and ineffectual). The opening Space Junk (sadly not a cover of the Devo classic) was inspired by Simcock's recent collaboration with DJ Carl Cox and kicks off with a lovely spot of prepared piano. But before you've had much of a chance to savour this, the trio are digging into one of those spiralling note-packed melodies that, while impressive as a display of technique, are almost immediately forgettable.
And so it goes on. No-one appears to break a sweat, even when they're playing hemidemisemiquavers at 160bpm. Garland's burnished tone never cracks – you can't even hear him draw breath. The writing is too tight to allow the music to breathe much either. There's also little attempt to explore the potential of the slightly unusual instrumental combinations on offer. Nothing has made up for the absence of a bass instrument; it's almost like they recorded with one but accidentally erased it from the mix.
There's some respite in the more reflective material; Garland's One Morning and Simcock's closing Tawel Nawr are both quite lovely and hint at what could have been. Those of us who are attracted to instrumental virtuosity will probably love this record (and it's hard not to be impressed by it); but those of us who want a bit more (or less) from our listening, and maybe even a few surprises, should be looking elsewhere.
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Top Customer Reviews
If there is a body of work which demonstrates the distinctiveness and vitality of contemporary UK jazz, this album must be a significant part of that. If that is where your interests lie this album is well worth checking out.
"Space junk" was concieved in Ibiza,it is about all the rubbish floating about in sp ace and features some excellent percussion work by Asaf Sirkis on drums .....good start to the album
"Weathergirls" a Garland origibnal that turned into a group composition,bright and breezy as the sleeve notes say!lovely solo piano as well.
"One morning"in memory of those we have lost and loved,it reminds me of Andy Shepperd in some ways,p articul arly around the time of "Nocturnal tourist"a beauiful performance by all concerned.
"Above the sun"wa s developed from a previous lighthouse tune,there is also a hint of flamenco to be found in this tune, aga in s ome fine playing by all three.
"The wind on the water"again another piece about solitude,in some ways it sounds like Bobo Stensons more reflective work,again it could be Andy Shepperd,but it is still good.
"King Bario" is dedicated to Malcolm Creese,and is very reminiscent of Acooustic triangle and is the best track on the album so far
"wax Lyrical is another dedicated tune,this time to the brilliant Stan sulzmann,who has made so excellent albums so give this a listen if you can.
"Deviled" Is another tribute,this time to Bill Brufford the excellen tub thumper from prog rockers Yes and King crimson a fine drummer indeed.
Tawel newr(Quiet now) is a bed time story.
All in all avery good album,that bodes well for the future!!
Particular note should be given to the three fold cover.it is a magnificent package,and the sleeve notes are clear and precise as well
TIM GARLAND.....SOPRANO AND TENOR SAX, BASS CLARINET
ASIF SIRKIS.....DRUMS,PERCUSSION ,HANG DRUM
RELEASED IN 2012
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Can't wait for more from this group. Shame about the name however, there are other groups with similar names, which can be confusing.Published on 8 July 2013 by ann_93