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This early Garrick album (plus bonus EP) is distinctly jazzy in comparison with his later work in which he develops a far more classically English style, incorporating influences from English literature and the church. There is no doubt that this is a jazz album (apart from the two "bonus tracks"). Michael Garrick is the definite leader. There is little of that uniquely Harriott inspired free form, despite that Garrick was in awe of Joe Harriott, as he remarks in his biography.

Harriott (alto), Keane (tpt) and Goode (b) (all West Indian immigrants) had worked together in London for many years and had produced the magnificent album "Abstract" three years or so earlier.

The musicianship is, as expected, absolutely first rate throughout the album. The music comes from Garrick throughout and much was written with Joe Harriott and Shake Keane in mind. It is absolutely unique, and in no pastiche of American jazz. Garrick had a great career ahead of him, so for followers of that journey, this album has an important place.

Personally I am less keen on the two final tracks, originally released on a separate E.P. However lovers of more classical / church music, they may have greater appeal. I certainly wouldn't rubbish anything from Michael Garrick even if it isn't to my personal taste.

The loss of Shake Keane (he went back home to teach English Literature) and Joe's untimely death mean that any recording featuring these two stars of the British modern jazz scene of this period are to be treasured.
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on 20 May 2014
1010, a great British jazz album from the sixties, featuring Joe Harriott and Shake Keane. An album well worth having.
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on 21 February 2012
Why is it that Garrick (along several other British jazz-makers of the time) was never highly regarded? His work was in many ways as individual, yet still very recognisable as "jazz", as, say, Miles, the MJQ or Brubeck or whoever - but being non-American seems to have put him at an immediate disadvantage. Yet when did Miles, the MJQ or Brubeck, just for example, conform to the 'proper standards' of jazz?
This first group of his definitely had its own recognisable style, with all the members easily recognisable -especially Coleridge Good with his vocal accompaniment! Having initially bought the LP on pure spec back in in the 60s, I was immediately hooked. It isn't everyone's idea of what 'jazz' 'should be' perhaps - but that was always the case with British artistes. (I can remember Chris Barber in his early days getting slated for not being 'New Orleans' enough, mainly because he didn't use a piano!)
This collection is a great introduction to Garrick's eclectic style. 'All my own work and I have to earn my living by it' as the chalked sign on many a pavement used to say, but Garrick was no pavement artist. Following that line of thought, he definitely belonged inside the National Gallery: it is not so far fetched, now I come to think of it, to compare him to Turner because of his less orthodox approach to his art. (Others may well disagree, naturally!) So, while Wedding Hymn and Anthem, for example, may not have found their niche in church music, still they are exciting and invigorating pieces of music in their own right, and the other items on this cd are all worth investigating for the enjoyment they provide.
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on 20 January 2006
October Woman was the debut album of British jazz composer/pianist Michael Garrick in 1964. Its long overdue reissue promises to inspire a new generation of jazzers (and reassure existing ones) that British jazz is indeed a mighty force.
Ten compositions of beauty, simplicity and originality. Seven Pillars begins proceedings; a driving waltz- time piece featuring Shake Keane audaciously changing his trumpet sound in mid-solo, with Garrick’s comping subtly sublime and sensitive. In Little Girl, Harriott is beautifully evocative with unusually dulcet tones. Keane’s playful muted trumpet solo and Harriott’s soaring alto lines set the scene in Sweet & Sugary Candy, followed by a good-humoured bowed solo from Coleridge Goode. Blue Scene evokes the soul movement of the 1950s and is rhythmically delightful. Colin Barnes’ drumming in particular is sharp and percussive, complemented by strong, bluesy piano chords and a pulsating bass line from Goode. Anthem begins majestically with Keane’s trumpet and Harriott’s alto in canon, before they joust with each other in freeform. The rhythm section maintains the hypnotic 5/4 time throughout. Return of an Angel is ushered in with Garrick’s sombre piano head in parallel fifths, one of three pieces on this album to use only rhythm section as a trio. Sketches of Israel uses muted trumpet to great effect, in a light, rapid moving playful piece, especially towards the end when trumpet and piano trade fours in mimicry of each other. The eponymous October Woman follows, portrayed by Keane’s soulful trumpet and augmented by Garrick’s sparse piano chords. Echoes sees Harriott take the lead with a Parker-esque solo followed by the dextrous lines of Garrick. Finally, the gentle, waltzing Fairies of Oneiros begins with Garrick’s beautiful melodic head, his ensuing solo in full imaginative flow faithfully supported by Goode and Barnes’ gently driving cymbals and brushed snare.

There is the added bonus on this album of Garrick’s Anthem EP, which presents Wedding Hymn as a sacred music offering complete with pipe organ and swing section, followed by Anthem, again showcasing organ, a full choir and Harriott and Keane in superb freeform mode. Who else, apart from Ellington, has ever spliced church music with jazz to such great effect? And Garrick’s recording pre-dated Duke’s first sacred concert by six months.
October Woman is also a timeless reminder of just how good an altoist Joe Harriott was; a close equal to Parker. Albums of such outstanding beauty are rare indeed. Buy now and get acquainted with your heritage.
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on 13 November 2005
The newly rehabilitated and fashionable British modern jazz from the 1960s is being reissued by Vocalion, and in the latest eagerly awaited batch comes another Michael Garrick classic, “October Woman”, recorded in 1964, predating “Black Marigolds” by a year. Ten diverse Garrick original compositions, instrumentals which range from swing to ballads, from conventional to tentatively experimental and lightly exotic (but no jazz poetry! A relief to some of us). Playing and arrangements are fine – some tunes are played by the excellent trio of Garrick-piano, Coleridge Goode-bass, Colin Barnes-drums, and several are augmented by legends Joe Harriott-sax and Shake Keane-trumpet. Two bonus tracks come from a roughly executed but interesting EP of “jazz church music”, recorded at same time as the album and featuring the “New Elizabethan Singers” (so very 60s!). The rather cheap looking CD booklet has some photos from the sessions, along with original sleevenote and recent brief reflections on Harriott by Garrick. Vocalian could help the accessibility of this music by better presentation or at least adding comprehensive notes by a current critic to provide context, of the type included in the “Impressed” compilations. Still, we should be thankful these albums are being reissued and that they suddenly sound so good.
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on 13 January 2006
While I agree with the previous reviewer that the packaging could be a bit better (why no turn to someone like Alan Robertson or Ian Carr for additional information?), I want to boost the average rating a bit so folks won't pass over this often-brilliant music. Some of Garrick's settings are too rigid for my taste, but most of the tracks--even the experiments with sacred music--allow his great, great partners, Joe Harriott and Shake Keane, to put together marvellously passionate improvisations. These men are overlooked titans of 1960s jazz (Harriott in particular), so it's wonderful to find them playing together here and playing with so much soul. Anyone who likes Harriott's "free form" music will find a lot to like here as well.
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