MICHAEL GARRICK

Post Bop / Third Stream / Progressive Big Band / Fusion • United Kingdom
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Michael Garrick MBE (30 May 1933 – 11 November 2011) was an English jazz pianist and composer, and a pioneer in mixing jazz with poetry recitations and in the use of jazz in large-scale choral works.

Garrick was born in Enfield, Middlesex, and educated at University College, London, from which he graduated in 1959 with a B.A. in English literature. As a student there he formed his first quartet, featuring vibraphonist Peter Shade. Recordings of this are on HEP (Chronos and Silhouette, released on Gearbox vinyl). Aside from some lessons at the Ivor Mairants School of Dance Music he was "an entirely self-taught musician" (he had been expelled from Eleanor B. Franklin-Pike's piano lessons for quoting from "In the Mood" at a pupils' concert), though he attended Berklee College, Boston, as a mature student in the 1970s. Soon after graduating, Garrick became the musical director of "Poetry & Jazz in Concert", a
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PromisesPromises
Imports 2014
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Black Marigolds / the Heart Is a LotusBlack Marigolds / the Heart Is a Lotus
Bgo - Beat Goes on 2012
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MICHAEL GARRICK Discography

MICHAEL GARRICK albums / top albums

MICHAEL GARRICK Moonscape album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Moonscape
Post Bop 1964
MICHAEL GARRICK Promises album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Promises
Post Bop 1965
MICHAEL GARRICK October Woman album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
October Woman
Post Bop 1965
MICHAEL GARRICK Black Marigolds album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Black Marigolds
Post Bop 1966
MICHAEL GARRICK The Heart Is A Lotus album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
The Heart Is A Lotus
Fusion 1970
MICHAEL GARRICK Mr Smith's Apocalypse  (as Garrick's Fairground) album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Mr Smith's Apocalypse (as Garrick's Fairground)
Third Stream 1971
MICHAEL GARRICK Home Stretch Blues album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Home Stretch Blues
Post Bop 1972
MICHAEL GARRICK Cold Mountain album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Cold Mountain
Post Bop 1972
MICHAEL GARRICK Troppo album cover 4.55 | 2 ratings
Troppo
Post Bop 1974
MICHAEL GARRICK A Lady In Waiting album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Lady In Waiting
Post Bop 1994
MICHAEL GARRICK Parting Is Such album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Parting Is Such
Post Bop 1995
MICHAEL GARRICK The New Quartet album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The New Quartet
Post Bop 2002
MICHAEL GARRICK Big Band Harriott album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Band Harriott
Progressive Big Band 2004
MICHAEL GARRICK Silhouette album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Silhouette
Post Bop 2010
MICHAEL GARRICK Prelude To Heart Is A Lotus album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Prelude To Heart Is A Lotus
Post Bop 2013

MICHAEL GARRICK EPs & splits

MICHAEL GARRICK Anthem album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Anthem
Post Bop 1965
MICHAEL GARRICK Michael Garrick Quartet / James Grant Kellas Sax Section ‎: Kronos album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Michael Garrick Quartet / James Grant Kellas Sax Section ‎: Kronos
Post Bop 1983

MICHAEL GARRICK live albums

MICHAEL GARRICK Poetry & Jazz In Concert album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Poetry & Jazz In Concert
Post Bop 1964
MICHAEL GARRICK Jazz Praises album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Praises
Post Bop 1968
MICHAEL GARRICK A Jazz Cantata (For Martin Luther King) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Jazz Cantata (For Martin Luther King)
Post Bop 1969
MICHAEL GARRICK You've Changed album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
You've Changed
Post Bop 1981
MICHAEL GARRICK Gigs - 0.00 | 0 ratings
Gigs - "Introducing Mick Garrett..."
Post Bop 2008

MICHAEL GARRICK demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

MICHAEL GARRICK re-issues & compilations

MICHAEL GARRICK Rising Stars album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Rising Stars
Post Bop 2011
MICHAEL GARRICK Black Marigolds/The Heart Is A Lotus album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Black Marigolds/The Heart Is A Lotus
Post Bop 2012

MICHAEL GARRICK singles (0)

MICHAEL GARRICK movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

MICHAEL GARRICK Reviews

MICHAEL GARRICK Troppo

Album · 1974 · Post Bop
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Sean Trane
Although not officially called so, Troppo is Michael Garrick’s Sextet’s last album, after the awesome Lotus and the less-successful Homesick albums. Indeed, no mention of the sextet but the personnel is roughly the same, with the usual suspect like Themen, Lowther and Rendell on winds, and old RCQ mates Green and Tomkins in the rhythm section, and the ever-so delicious Norma Winstone on vocals. Recorded at Decca studios in the late October 73 and released on the small Argos label, Troppo is at least as adventurous as Heart Is The Lotus, if slightly less “soundtacular”, as the rather bland artwork clearly shows.

Opening on the 10-mins title track, a mid-tempo scat-jazz piece in 13/8 that allows the horns to take over centre-stage when Norma is not busy flirting with the mikes, Troppo is rather representative of the album. The fairly similar Lime Blossom track is more enthralling with a more-present Rhodes, forcing the horns to push the limits, driving Norma to up the ante, even though she actually sings lyrics. In between these two monsters is the shorter To Henry (Lowther), A (new) Son sticks closer to the predecessor, rather than its successor, but the short drum solo halfway through provides a welcome break, before Norma’s joy scat overwhelms the track.

On the flipside, Garrick pays homage to another band member’s kids, (this time, Art Themen) by letting the father blowing his steam into the alto sax… Again the dissonance barrier is crossed in the middle section, but nothing extravagant in regards to the 15/4 rhythm. Excellent stuff that should have you hanging on to the edge of your seat. Fellow Feeling is dedicated to one of London’s first jazz star, the Jamaican-born paternal figure Joe Harriott, who had died a few months before this album. The first part is rather standard sung jazz, but in its second half, the track really gets down to business with a superb bass duet, one on the bowed contrabass and the other on electric bass, while some male scat vocals, much reminiscent of Robert Wyatt reigns over discordant horns, before Norma takes control again with Rendell’s flute at her side. The closing Forgotten Music is a slow and moody piece, where Lowther picks up his violin to challenge Garrick’s piano and Norma’s Shakespeare-borrowed lyrics. One has to wait until the seventh minute of the track before hearing a wind instrument

Definitely a huge improvement on the flawed Homesick Blues album, Troppo is probably Michael Garrick’s apex with Heart Is A Jewel, even if the one-shot project Garrick’s Fairground goes even further, but a few bridges too far, IMHO. With a stupendous and near-perfect flipside, Troppo can esily figure in most post-bop UK jazz album’s top XX list.

MICHAEL GARRICK Mr Smith's Apocalypse (as Garrick's Fairground)

Album · 1971 · Third Stream
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Sean Trane
Leader Michael Garrick amidst his best albums of the early 70’s formed a special project which didn’t fit his usual sextet formations, and therefore created Garrick’s Fairground and wrote the concept of God’s absence or non-existence. Garrick had often used the vocals in jazz in unusual manners as shown by the outstanding Lotus album and the future Troppo disc to come, but also dealing with poetry in jazz. This present ambitious work indeed took his vocals idea a few step further (read: out there), this time using full choirs, on top of four lead voices, the best-known being Norma Winstone. Given the album’s line-up for the musicians, I had the warmest and highest expectations from this promisingly-titled album, most notably the presence of 4/5 of the RCQ (only Carr is missing) and wind-men Lowther and Themen. Alas deception was at hand, because the emphasis is more on the vocal experiences than on the jazz music, often not really that jazz, per se. Indeed, while there is definitely jazz base on MSA, it is kind of unique and escapes ready-made description and usual pigeonholes. Indeed the choral passages are often very complex and expressive: the lyrics are rather strong (courtesy of Poet John Smith >> can’t invent THAT, right? ;o)) and emotional, often veering incredibly cheesy and tacky, sometimes even evoking the Kobaian choirs of Magma, but also operatic or music-hall moments.

Soooo, the album opens and ends on two separate tracks from the main-concept, including the opening and enthralling Epiphany and the ethereal & bluesy closing Peacemakers tunes. In the meantime, the 23-movement (from 1 to just over 5 minutes-long) title track suite occupies the rest of the album, and it is a wild ride at times, mostly due to the very messianic vocals, sometimes close to prayers, but one must admire the incredible work of writing and adapting both the music to the poem and likewise in the opposite direction. One of the more unusual trait from Garrick’s habits is that he doesn’t touch a piano or an harpsichord (given the classical and mlusic-hall elements used here), but plays everything on his organ, which tends to cheapen the atmosphere, lowering an ambitious passage into a circus thing.

Not really my cup of tea, but in some ways, MSA could be seen as Garrick’s songwriting crowing achievement. Being a confirmed atheist, you’ll understand easily that the engaged (but not necessarily for or against) mystical/religious concerns of the concept are just not up my alley, therefore making it difficult for me to really accept or dig in the oeuvre’s debate. Nevertheless, there are some music passages I like, but they are very much outnumbered by the more awkward and cheesy, sometimes almost-grotesque moments.

Although I’ve spinned this album a few times over the last years, I’ve not been able to ever feel comfortable with this strange and unclassifiable mix of incredibly different elements from opposite sides of the musical spectrum. I don’t think I ever will really enjoy it either, but it doesn’t stop me of being impressed by the grandeur and sheer amount of sweat and patience to build such an amazing project. I will very rarely rate higher an album than I really enjoy it, but in this case, the sheer size and ambition of the present project and its result is so impressive (even though not my thing), that it can only inspire my respect and I’ll give a full star more than I actually would ever really enjoy it.

MICHAEL GARRICK Home Stretch Blues

Album · 1972 · Post Bop
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Sean Trane
After the phenomenally successful (artistic-wise) Heart Is A Lotus album, Garrick gave it another shot at vocals-as-instrument experiment with the more military-minded HSB album (with the uniforms plastered on the cover and a supposedly funny liner note to explain it), but ultimately failed to match the predecessor’s near-perfection. With a reduced line-up - Carr and Phillip are out, but Lowther is in with his violin and trumpet, and only one bassist - compared to Lotus, Garrick also made some strange artistic choice that actually backfire to the fans he might have garnered with his previous effort. Indeed the silly WWII concept of the album imposed both the visual aspect, but also a more traditional jazz soundscape, at the detriment of the more modern side of the Lotus album.

Opening on the lengthy title track, the album is off to a smooth start, almost-standard-y, but it’s only sleeping waters only waiting to awake, because the track is deceptively simple as Garrick imposes some tricky chords changes to everyone from behind his piano. Norma’s vocals are rather more conventional than the previous album, but still interesting. An almost a capella Norma(l) vocal opens Sweet And (S)Low, but we’re again in too standard territory, which is, once more, not that much my Earl Grey cup. The 9-mins+ Epiphany (co-written by bassist Green) is again fairly traditional-sounding on the surface, but the more complex construction and piano chords are underlying, waiting to pounce on you just around the bend; while Norma is soaring high above and Lowther’s violin searing just below, the track ends much more energetic than it started.

On the flipside, Opal Fires sees Garrick’s harpsichord resurfacing (from previous albums), where Themen’s sax goes slightly awry (read dissonant), and Norma a bit conservative. The very same harpsichord pops up again in the pleasant uplifting instrumental and brassy Retribution. The quieter instrumental Wishbone track features plenty of bass work, complimenting Garrick’s excellent piano. Blue Poppies is almost a medieval or baroque piece, with the harpsichord and Norma’s semi-Tudor-ian chant, but the track builds on that base to come-out as a full-blown jazz-piece and return to that Tudor-like piece. The closing Limbo Child is a very brassy affair that ends in a piano-led finish.

This HSB album obviously doesn’t reach its predecessor’s kneecap, but it’s only the second of Garrick’s trilogy (not counting the up-coming Cold Mountain release as a trio) with that more or less same line-up as Tropo will be released the following year. OK, so it’s rather more conservative than Lotus (and lacking its sheer brilliance), but this doesn’t mean that it (HSB) is not worthy of your attention.

MICHAEL GARRICK Black Marigolds

Album · 1966 · Post Bop
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Sean Trane
Well if the Promises album, released three years earlier was a bit of a deception (for moi, anyway), Black Marigolds held more Promises as it included the same line-up, but this time with the whole RCQ team on board. Released in the spring of 66 on the small Argo label, the album presents three or four facets of Garrick’s musical realm, but not the one he develops with the RCQ on their albums proper. But IMHO, Harriot’s presence on BM sort of gives it an handicap in the adventurous department. . The septet pieces are generally relatively standard jazz, like Webster’s Mood, Good Times or Ursula (maybe the best of that kind of jazz on the present album), but we’re definitely not in the Dusk Fire soundscapes, despite the full RCQ line-up present. As for the poetry-laden tracks, like the almost 9-mins Jazz For Five (piano, bass and percussions and sax) plus poet John Smith (can’t invent that!!), but it’s nothing fascinating either, despite the music being a tad more dissonant than usual (but nothing to scare you off). Little more can be said of Jazz Nativity, which is less adventurous than its longer brother.

Other tracks are a bit unsettling like when Garrick jumps behind the harpsichord and play some baroque-sounding short Spiders piece, or the much-more impressive title track that features a cool raga… Quite inventive and when Garrick will bring that track in the RCQ (in Phase III), it will take on its real dimension. Little Girls is a trio piece where Garrick plays the celeste, but in itself, it can be associated with the harpsichord tracks of the flipside. The Closing Carolling is similar to its predecessor, but with that keyboard change.

Well BM sounds like quite a pot-pourri, right? In a way, it is, but it’s not as bad as you could imagine so. While the A-side might be of little surprise, because of a standard-septet dominance, the flipside is much more interesting, thus making BM a real schizophrenic album, with its four or five different formulas, but can be reduced to three different personalities. Certainly an interesting listen, but enough to actually find space for it in your shelves?

MICHAEL GARRICK Promises

Album · 1965 · Post Bop
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
Although Garrick was at the time also in the much-more advanced Rendell-Carr Quintet by the time of this release, Promises doesn’t really hold up its name, despite the presence of Carr and Green on trumpet and contrabass respectively. OK, the line-up also comprises the granddaddy of British jazzers Joe Harriot, which wasn’t going to transform the present album into an Impulse! Label’s “new thing” either. Rounding up the line-up were the usual accomplice of Tony Coe and lesser-known (to moi, anyway) Colin Barnes Coleridge Goode. It was released in 65 on the small Argo label and reissued in Japan in the 00’s since, elsewhere in the world.

Yes, this album Promises is certainly not at the cutting edge of the British scene of that year, although the first real interesting stuff will really start to happen around that time. This sextet hasn’t got much to envy to the majority of US Blue Note release, except maybe the fame, whether back then or nowadays. The three RCQ members are certainly here far from the level of inventiveness that they will show with the superb Dusk Fire album the following spring. Yup, instead, they’re quite standard-y as all tracks but one (a interesting Gershwin rendition) are Garrick-penned, something that can surprise a bit when hearing the stuff he was developing in the RCQ group.

Sure, tracks like Thing Of Beauty or Second Coming (maybe the album’s highlight and the most complex composition) are not ripping their names, but that Merlin is anything but wizardly, and the title track is not really kept, while Requiem is a snooze-fest, even for those resting in peace. Some of the tracks (like Portrait Of A Young Lady) can actually sound so-retro, that you’re wondering if this not beyond the cliché and on the way to the pastiche. Only the closing Song By The Sea features a soundscape a bit out of that time-warp or mind-frame, as it features a vibraphone, but fails to captivate either.

Anyway, even the longer tracks (like the 7-mins+ Parting Is Such) don’t offer anything more than their shorter cousins, where you could’ve hoped that the musos would actually drop it all off and let it hang out, but alas, nothing of the sort. Although I wouldn’t rename this album Deceptions, I must admit I was expecting a tad more adventurous stuff than this run-of-the-mill stuff that won’t deceive the miller, but the client was maybe expecting a different kind of flour. Not my cup or tea.

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