Acoustic Triangle

Miserere Mei [arr. Garland]
Bourdion; From the Land; Winding Wind; Rosa Ballerina
How Deep is the Ocean
And Then She Was Gone; Nutshell; Fundero
Coffee Time
Everyone’s Song But My Own
Placet Futile [arr. Garland]

Acoustic Triangle:
Tim Garland (soprano & tenor saxophones/bass clarinet); Gwilym Simcock (French horn & piano); Malcolm Creese (double bass)

Reviewed by: Rob Witts

Reviewed: 6 October, 2006
Venue: Museum of Garden History, London

The converted church by Lambeth Palace that now houses the Museum of Garden History has become an unlikely but delightful jazz venue thanks to Chris Potts, who has been hosting concerts there for several years. No group could make better use of this marvellous space than Acoustic Triangle, a trio that, more or less uniquely in the jazz world, performs without amplification.

Founded by bassist Malcolm Creese with saxophonist Tim Garland and pianist John Horler, Acoustic Triangle has found a new lease of life since Horler retired to be replaced by rising star Gwilym Simcock. To watch them perform is to see three master musicians enjoying one another’s company, slipping casually back and forth over the boundary between classical and jazz.

Indeed, the concert began with the first of two arrangements of classical works. Tim Garland’s arrangement of Allegri’s “Miserere Mei” distributed the players around the hall for antiphonal exchanges between bowed bass, French horn and breathy soprano sax. A smart segue into Garland’s “Bourdion” stepped up the tempo with its busy curlicues and toothsome melodic twists. As well as being virtuoso players, both Garland and Simcock bring real composing chops to the table: the lovely, still melody of “From The Land” had been reworked as the central movement of Garland’s piano concerto for the Northern Sinfonia, and the ballad “And Then She Was Gone” showed Simcock’s skill in a folk-like tune that opened out in unexpected harmonic directions.

Creese’s genial, unassuming persona as leader belies his astonishing playing. He gave a stunning, contrapuntal introduction to a swinging “How Deep Is The Ocean”; in “From The Land”, he played fewer notes and let his rich, sweet tone do the talking. Garland is equally adept on soprano or tenor saxophone, and his bass clarinet playing is something to cherish, doubling the bass on the melody in “From The Land” and opening “Fundero” with a series of guttural explosions.

The choice of repertoire also took in Ravel and the enjoyably eccentric John Taylor, whose “Coffee Time” alternated free-improv sections with a driving solo from Simcock, whose piano-playing suggests Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarrett in its effortless, freewheeling invention. An encore, Miles Davis’s “Blue in Green” showed the astonishing rapport of all three in an aching, exposed reading. Pure pleasure.

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