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Jason Rebello & Tim Garland, 'Life to Life'

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    Posted: 07 Mar 2023 at 11:15pm

recording of the week,Jason Rebello & Tim Garland, 'Life to Life'

by Joshua Lee

Jason Rebello & Tim Garland
Jason Rebello (left) & Tim Garland (right) 

It’s only natural that longstanding musical friendships should produce the best duo recordings. Despite having been close friends and even collaborators in various capacities for the best part of three decades, this new album by multi-reedist Tim Garland and pianist/keyboardist Jason Rebello is the first time the pair have recorded together purely as a duo, and it seems they wanted to make sure it was worth the wait. The two are both alumni of the Guildhall School of Music and crossed paths there many times, with Garland being more on the compositional side while Rebello was already an up-and-coming player.

Garland’s career began to take off in the 1990s with gigs working for Ronnie Scott and Ralph Towner, eventually landing a spot in Chick Corea’s Origin band after the keyboardist heard his 1997 album Enter the Fire. Rebello, on the other hand, took a break from music to focus on his Buddhist faith after a string of successful solo albums in his early 20s – the first of which, 1990’s A Clearer View, was produced by Wayne Shorter and got him an appearance on the cover of The Wire. Rebello’s resume spreads outside the realm of jazz including a stint with Jeff Beck’s touring band, and he was even invited by Sting to replace his keyboardist Kenny Kirkland after his passing. Rebello refocused on solo jazz recordings in the early 2010s after over a decade of working as a session musician, with his first of these new studio albums Anything But Look featuring contributions from Omar, Jacob Collier and his good friend Garland.

Jason Rebello & Tim Garland
Jason Rebello (left) & Tim Garland (right)

It’s this life on the road that informs the steady rhythm of opening track ‘Two to Go’, the first of two new pieces by Garland on the record, with the reedist mostly keeping things smooth on the tenor sax while Rebello’s later improvisations sprinkle in some spikier melodies. The other Garland tune – the moody and meditative ‘Soul Resonance’ – provides a calm pace breaker and edges on spiritual jazz sounds, while also serving as a showcase for the pair’s more intimate sensibilities early in the record. For their first full-length duo outing – though there are a couple of duo songs peppered throughout their back catalogues – Rebello and Garland find the best in each other and play off with remarkable chemistry. The Garland tune ‘This Morning’ features one of Rebello’s most adventurous moments on the record, venturing through the entire second half of the song unmoored by the tune’s structure.

One of only two non-originals on the record is taken from Garland’s past, Chick Corea’s ‘Children’s Song No. 6’, while the other is the closing track ‘Black Is the Colour (of My True Love’s Hair)’, a folk song originating in Scotland but often associated with the Appalachian Mountains. Here Garland switches again to his bass clarinet, digging into its earthy low register to take the lead on one of the most arresting tracks on the record (it’s my favourite, personally); Garland speaks of folk songs’ ‘irreducible melodies’ in the press for this album, and ‘Black Is the Colour’ slots in well with the rest of him and Rebello’s tendencies for utilising uncomplicated pop-like melodies in their compositions – without ignoring the exciting intimacy afforded by this stripped-back duo format.

Edited by snobb - 07 Mar 2023 at 11:16pm
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