COMPOSERS: Garland,Horler,Ravel arr. Tim Garland,Towner,Wheeler
PERFORMER: Acoustic Triangle: Malcolm Creese (b), John Horler (p), Tim Garland (ss, ts, bcl)
CATALOGUE NO: ABCD 5012 (distr. www.audio-b.com)
Acoustic Triangle is a trio of world-class virtuosi and this exquisitely passionate and inspired album is something of a masterpiece. It begins with Tim Garland’s fine arrangements of Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé.
The composer was fascinated by jazz and, in the Twenties, went to the USA to experience it at first hand. Garland has maintained the moods of the pieces, but opened them up by repeating passages with often ambiguous harmonies which cry out for improvisation. His scintillating soprano sax is the lead voice, and both his and Horler’s solos are so ecstatically creative that Ravel, had he heard them, might well have been inspired to transcribe them himself.
These three tracks seem to set the standards of interaction and focus for the remaining nine pieces. Ralph Towner’s ‘The Glide’ is given a swinging performance, with an exuberantly playful recurrent soprano saxophone and piano dialogue.
There are two tributes to the late pianist Bill Evans, Garland’s ‘Bill’s Way’, which features his warm and sinuous tenor sax, and Horler’s ‘Evansong’, which bristles with incident, with Garland again on soprano. Bassist Creese has solos on both these tributes, and his ensemble-playing is impeccable throughout.
Other highlights are Garland’s bravura bass clarinet-playing on his piece ‘Flying Machine’ and Kenny Wheeler’s ‘Sly Eyes’ with its extraordinary improvised tenor sax introduction and solo, Horler’s striking piano solo and the sighing, keening improvised coda.