Gig Review - Tim Garland

Thursday 15th January 2009 @ St Georges

The impressively grand St George’s Bristol venue tonight held a celebration of British jazz royalty. Tim Garland and his Lighthouse Project trio are showcased compositions from their forthcoming, as yet untitled, album to a modestly packed hall. Having learnt all I know about jazz from the Fast Show and Lisa Simpson, I went into this gig with an open mind not knowing what to expect. I was also not used to sitting down at a gig so this is a first on all accounts.

Tonight Tim Garland was joined on stage by percussionist Asaf Sirkis and pianist Gwilym Simcock. It was clear in an instant that these three gentlemen are masters of their craft and they got to showcase their individual talents separately throughout each song. Such is Tim’s appreciation of the other two musicians that a lot of the time he would stand to one side and watch them perform together ‘wooping’ and clapping along. For me this was both pleasing and puzzling to see. I found it puzzling because tonight’s set, like a lot of jazz I know of, has no real structure so Tim clapping along seemed strange as there was really no rhythm that would stick around long enough to clap to!

Asaf’s percussive instruments were original and varied. One minute he was playing what looked and sounded like a terracotta pot the next he was beating what Tim referred to as; “One of the robot aliens from the Smash advert”. These instruments provided a real base for the sound of each song for me. Some started with a Cuban style tango effect, others a very tribal sounding rhythm. Tim’s sax playing occasionally seemed to compliment the piano more than the drum beat. I actually preferred the softer sound he created with the bass clarinet in some songs.

Simcock’s piano playing was flawless and to me was actually the highlight of a slightly bewildering evening. I think I will have to see more jazz gigs before I decide on whether I like watching live jazz strangely enough.

These three musicians make remarkable solo music and the collaboration on the album will undoubtedly be a success when it is released. As my first jazz gig came to a close I’d say I’m quite curious about its place in live music for me. Jazz seems like something that could easily be enjoyed in such venues as The Old Duke with a crowd and drinks but watching it so intently in a chair like this made the evening a little tense. However, to anyone who has never been to a jazz gig you will surely enjoy the experience especially if you can catch The Lighthouse Project.

Stu Freeman

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