Acoustic Triangle, The Edge Arts Centre, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, 26/11/2011.
This concert represented the last date of a UK tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of the group Acoustic Triangle. Malcolm Creese's chamber jazz trio originally consisted of himself on double bass, multi reed player Tim Garland and pianist John Horler and was itself a direct descendent of an earlier drummerless trio featuring Creese, Horler and reeds man Tony Coe.
Horler left after the first album and was replaced by the younger, more classically orientated Gwilym Simcock. With Simcock in the band the trio embraced their collective classical leanings more openly, pioneering a unique blend of the jazz and classical genres but without diluting the essence or tradition of either. Playing entirely acoustically they frequently took their music into spaces not normally associated with jazz, often playing in churches and other sacred buildings whilst wooing a new and previously untapped audience for their music in the process. Acoustic Triangle's fan base reaches out beyond the regular jazz demographic making them a hugely popular live act who always attract large audiences, tonight being no exception.
The group's story has been a fascinating process with the trio developing their style across four albums- "Interactions" (2001), "Catalyst" (2003), "Resonance" (2005) and the ambitious "3 Dimensions" (2007) which successfully added the sound of strings to the trio's core sound. I have been lucky enough to see the group live on a number of previous occasions with two of these taking place in sacred buildings, Dore Abbey in Herefordshire and Worcester Cathedral, the latter of these performances also incorporating strings. The third concert took place in the Regency splendour of Cheltenham's Pittville Pump Rooms with the group performing to a mainly classical audience. It's probably fair to say that Acoustic Triangle tailor each concert to fit the audience and room they are playing to and tonight at Much Wenlock was no exception. The Edge's Artistic Director Alison Vermee has established a sizeable and loyal jazz following in this small Shropshire town and in what I'm sure was a direct response to a jazz loving audience in a secular setting the trio turned in the most obviously "jazz" performance I've ever seen them give. Even without the absence of drums there were moments when they were really swinging.
Having said that there was no compromise of the trio's methods, they still played entirely acoustically-no amps, no mics, no pick ups and, crucially, no mixing desk. They were positioned much further forward than is normal at The Edge with the audience partially surrounding them in a kind of "horseshoe" formation. Everybody that I spoke to afterwards said that they had heard the group perfectly which was quite a tribute to the excellent acoustics of this relatively new venue.
The trio began with Garland's "Winding Wind" with the composer's woody bass clarinet combining well with the rich sounds of Creese's bowed bass and Simcock's dampened piano strings. After this atmospheric introduction things really took off as Garland switched to soprano sax, soloing exuberantly as his colleagues offered energetic, even swinging support. Simcock's piano solo exhibited a similar freshness with the impish Garland swaying and moving and clicking his fingers in time to the rhythm. The subsequent dazzling exchange of phrases between saxophone and piano brought this first piece to a thrilling conclusion. Acoustic Triangle had captivated their audience from the start.
Next the group turned to their classical side with Garland's arrangement of Maurice Ravel's hundred year old "Trois Poemes De Stephane Mallarme", a piece which actually appeared on their first album. Garland's work on soprano sax, alternately breathy and keening, was punctuated by a lengthy passage of solo piano. Creese, in the anchor role, moved between arco and pizzicato as the music dictated.
All three members of Acoustic Triangle have, at some point in their careers, worked with the venerable trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler. Arguably Wheeler's most famous composition a lovely version of "Everyone's Song But My Own" came next, introduced by Creese on solo double bass. The leader then entered into a fascinating dialogue with Garland who had now switched to the tenor saxophone before the emphasis subtly changed to the piano with the excellent Simcock gradually taking over.
Creese, who normally handles the announcing duties, was suffering with a heavy cold so in the main Garland and Simcock introduced their own tunes. Simcock explained that on "Plain Song" he was looking primarily for simplicity and this pureness of form was expressed in the unadorned beauty of the piece. The soloists - Garland on tenor, Creese on bass and Simcock at the piano each provided their own take on something that the celebrated cornet player Ruby Braff (1927-2003) would have described as "the adoration of the melody".
The trio's fascination with the nature of sound itself was epitomised during the introduction to Cole Porter's "All Of You" with Garland placing the bell of his tenor sax directly inside the raised lid of Simcock's grand piano. The reverb that this generated was little short of astonishing, a church like echo that reminded me of the sound of Jan Garbarek at his most glacial. Later in the tune Garland delivered a more conventional jazz solo that climaxed with r'n'b style honking, not something you'd normally associate with Acoustic Triangle. Simcock matched him with an equally bravura piano solo, this was the sound of a band responding to their audience and enjoying a little last night fun.
The first set concluded with Simcock's "Barber's Blues", a dedication to Samuel, the modern classical composer, rather than Chris the jazz trombonist. However as Simcock explained Samuel Barber (1910-1981) had a strong interest in jazz rhythms and harmonies and this piece was inspired by Barber's early 20th Century works. Simcock introduced the piece at the piano, playing initially with the left hand only with Garland, on bass clarinet, and Creese on solo double bass subsequently taking up the reins. Garland switched to soprano sax for an exceptional solo before returning to bass clarinet following Simcock's contribution.
This had been a lengthy first set full of adventurous, brilliantly played music. Although the classical components that form such an important part of Acoustic Triangle's sound were all very much in place the overall feeling was that this had been an hour or so of absolutely outstanding jazz, a quality that the trio were to carry over into a slightly shorter but equally absorbing second set.
The second set began with a segue of Garland tunes with the beautiful folkish melodies of "Black Elk" featuring the composer on bass clarinet. A passage of solo piano provided the bridge into "Bourdion", based on a French dance and featuring all manner of tricky time signatures. However this kind of stuff is meat and drink to Acoustic Triangle who collectively handled the complexities with aplomb with Simcock soloing joyously at the piano whilst negotiating some treacherous looking left hand figures. He was matched by Garland's equally mercurial work on soprano sax.
The group had learned that American guitarist and composer Ralph Towner had played The Edge earlier in the year as one half of a duo featuring Sicilian trumpeter Paolo Fresu. They decided to acknowledge this with their version of Towner's beautifully melodic composition "The Glide", making for a nice piece of musical symmetry. The interplay here between Garland on tenor sax and Simcock at the piano was particularly engrossing. Nice one.
Garland's "Rosa Ballerina", a dedication to his then six year old daughter was another example of Ruby Braff's dictum with Garland's soprano sax cherishing the beautiful melody.
The trio closed the second set with their adaptation of pianist John Taylor's ebullient "Coffee Time". Simcock opening up the proceedings with a dazzling solo piano improvisation. Garland followed him on soprano sax before the mood changed with an abstract central passage involving interior piano scrapings and grainy arco bass and bass clarinet. The closing stages marked a return to the playfulness and exuberance of the first section with the trio throwing some flashes of musical humour into the mix.
The Edge crowd absolutely loved this and called the trio back for a deserved encore. This proved to be a beautifully emotive version of Bill Evans' "Blue In Green" featuring the delicately rounded sounds of Garland's tenor sax in a superbly controlled performance that was almost plaintive at times. Creese was featured using the bow on the intro before switching to pizzicato for a resonant and lyrical solo. Simcock's unhurried, thoughtfully lyrical contribution seemed to channel something of Evans' spirit into the evening.
This was a terrific way to conclude what had probably been the best performance I've seen from Acoustic Triangle. Being primarily a jazz fan I responded readily to the jazz and swing elements of their performance and to the sheer joy of it, they were all clearly having great fun despite Creese's bouts of the snuffles. This was also one of the lengthiest performances I've seen at this venue and purely in those terms the evening was great value for money. The Edge's jazz regulars clearly felt the same and gave them a great reception. It also helps that all three are such pleasant, approachable, charming chaps and after the concert they were all happily chatting away to fans in the foyer. After ten years there's still plenty of life in Acoustic Triangle and tonight's concert definitely felt like a celebration.
Acoustic Triangle in concert, 17 October 2010
After a year spent on other things, bassist Malcolm Creese,
saxophonist Tim Garland and pianist Gwilym Simcock re-grouped as
Acoustic Triangle and appeared for Jack Pine's Jazz Direct in the
Victorian comfort of the music room at the Grims Dyke Hotel in leafy
At times overwhelming, this was winner-takes-all, high wire music,
sublime and often beautiful, typified by their collective examination of
How Deep Is The Ocean or Simcock's extraordinary deconstruction of John
Taylor's Coffee Time.
Creese can amaze with his lyrical command, every note plangent and
poised, while Garland is quite simply a giant of our day, as
demonstrated by his conversational bass clarinet on Simcock's perky
Latin piece Fundero. As for Simcock, his fund of ideas, sometimes
capricious, sometimes funky and direct, never fails to astonish.
Peter Vacher, JazzUK magazine, Dec/Jan 2010/11
Cathedral Music - November 2008 edition
From a review of the 3 Choirs Festival, Worcester
Outstanding for me was Malcolm Creese's Acoustic Triangle performing
3-Dimensions, which exploited the spaces of the Cathedral nave, some
playing on the main stage, others emerging out of the shadows, down the
aisles grouping and re-grouping: virtuosic playing from Creese himself
on the double bass, other strings and winds, and dazzling dexterity from
Gwilym Simcock on piano.
Hexham Courant Oct 2, 2008
London Evening Standard June 17, 2008
CHORAL JAZZMEN HIT THE CATHEDRALS
You can take a boy out of the church, as they say, but you can't take
the church out of the boy. Consider Acoustic Triangle. Three former
choristers now accomplished jazzmen, they are returning to their roots
for a 14-date tour of English abbeys and cathedrals. Thanks to the Arts
Council and Yamaha, the six-piece Sacconi Strings are involved and the
results are spectacular. "If you try to play bebop in these acoustics,
it turns to mush," explained double-bassist Malcolm Creese, "so we had
to come up with something else." He is being modest.
While containing enough rhythmic and harmonic interest for any jazz fan,
pianist Gwilym Simcock and saxophonist Tim Garland's unique blend of
jazz and choral music was made to measure for the Purbeck stone of this
elegant Hawksmoor church.
Garland played flute, bass clarinet and soprano and tenor saxes, while
Simcock briefly exchanged keyboard for French horn but only rarely did
they solo in a traditional sense. Mostly, their lines entwined with the
strings, who themselves kept disappearing into the naves to create an
illusion of 17th-century stereo. Even the most irredeemable
church-dodging sinner could enjoy this.
The Guardian Friday 20th June 2008
Acoustic Triangle - 3 Dimensions
Christ Church Spitalfields, London
Bassist Malcolm Creese's Acoustic Triangle started out in 2001, mixing Ravel and Messiaen into its repertoire alongside the works of Kenny Wheeler and Ralph Towner. With the subsequent arrival of piano prodigy Gwilym Simcock to join Creese and saxist Tim Garland, the trio mostly switched to originals - operating on that precarious hinterland between jazz improv and contemporary-classical chamber music. Creese, a devotee of church architecture, added the idea of coupling a new repertoire to the largely untapped performance possibilities of the church circuit. The group's latest and most ambitious incarnation is this 14-date tour, also featuring a young strings ensemble, that stopped off at the Spitalfields festival this week.
Garland and Simcock each provided a set's worth of music - written with the acoustics of the space in mind, and setting the augmented Sacconi Strings ensemble loose to roam, unleashing pizzicato snaps and warm, long-note harmonies from the galleries and the side aisles. Garland's half mixed contrasting dissonances and percussive sounds with passages of rhapsodic lyricism, and extensively used call-and-response motifs that the strings parts progressively enriched. His improvisational ingenuity and tonal variety - on soprano and tenor saxes, flute and bass clarinet - was a masterclass in how to use the space.
Gwilym Simcock's second-half feature offered more sonic variety and catchier grooves, with the composer playing piano and French horn, shrewdly deploying both Garland's fragile flute-playing and rugged postbop tenor swing, and exploiting Creese's big sound and rhythmic drive. A tenor-blasting Garland powering his way down the centre aisle to join a cello and bass-powered pumping beat on stage was an ecstatic episode, as was the whooping bass clarinet solo over the encore's deliciously skewed tango.
Acoustic Triangle Live Review (Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham 7/11/2007)
Malcolm Creese is one of Britain's most respected bass players and has worked with British jazz
legends such as John Dankworth, Cleo Laine and Stan Tracey. He has also accompanied many great
American musicians including Lee Konitz, Art Farmer and Clark Terry. In the pop field his
c.v.includes work with Sting and Diana Ross.
However Creese has a classical background and at one time played as a cellist or bassist in both
chamber groups and orchestras.
Acoustic Triangle brings together both sides of Creese's music in an excellent "chamber jazz" trio.
Joining Creese are versatile reeds player Tim Garland and the highly acclaimed young pianist Gwilym
The seeds of Acoustic Triangle were sown in 1995 when Creese worked in a drummerless trio with
saxophonist Tony Coe and pianist John Horler.
The first edition of Acoustic Triangle dates back to 2000 with the group initially comprising of
Creese, Garland and Horler. This line up released the debut Acoustic Triangle album "Interactions"
in 2001.Simcock had replaced Horler by the time "Catalyst" appeared in 2003.
Inspired perhaps by the crossover success of Jan Garbarek's collaborations with the Hilliard
Ensemble Creese took deliberate steps to present Acoustic Triangle's music to an audience outside
the normal constituency of jazz. The group's "Sacred Places" tour saw them playing in a variety of
religious buildings, from small chapels to cathedrals. I was fortunate enough to see them give a
memorable performance to a sell out crowd at Herefordshire's beautiful but remote Dore Abbey in
Creese's strategy proved remarkably successful with the group playing to large and appreciative
audiences, many of them with classical inclinations and perhaps hearing jazz for the first time. A
live album, "Resonance" subsequently emerged from the tour.
Tonight's concert was part of a series promoted by Cheltenham Contemporary Concerts. They have been
involved in jazz/classical crossover projects before such as the Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford
concert held earlier in the year at Cheltenham Town Hall and reviewed elsewhere on this site.
Details of the other (mainly classical) concerts in the series can be found at
The Regency splendour of the Pittville Pump Room proved to be the perfect setting for the trio's
unique blend of jazz, classical and folk elements. Superb acoustics and a piano that drew the praise
of young Mr Simcock ensured that the sound was excellent.
Acoustic Triangle live up to their name and play genuinely acoustic music. No amps, no mics, no pick
ups- the real thing- and this room was the ideal setting.
The group's repertoire includes original pieces from within the band, mainly from Simcock and the
prolific Garland, plus arrangements of tunes by jazz writers of the calibre of Kenny Wheeler and
John Taylor. Interpretations of pieces by classical composers such as Ravel are also featured.
The evening commenced with Garland's composition "Black Elk" which introduced the gorgeous woody
tone of the composer's bass clarinet. Creese underpinned everything with his sonorous bass playing,
switching between arco and pizzicato.
A solo piano passage by Simcock provided the link into another Garland composition, "Bourdion".
Garland had now taken up the soprano sax and an infectious and thrilling dialogue (or "duel" as
Creese later put) it ensued between saxophone and piano. The well-spoken Creese is an informative
announcer of tunes striking just the right balance between seriousness and humour. His bass had
suffered some minor damage on a flight home from Finland but he refused to let this affect either
his mood or his playing.
Garland also took the compositional honours on the following "Beyond The City, The Stars". Written
in rondo form each musician took a solo improvisation on the circling theme. Garland's bass clarinet
utilised the natural echo of the building before giving way to the dexterity of Creese at the bass.
Simcock produced dense, dark left hand figures in an atmospheric improvisation for solo piano.
"Boleria" lightened things up a bit. An up tempo tune with it's roots in Flamenco and based on the
story of Adam and Eve it featured Garland on tenor sax with Creese's bass slaps emphasising it's
Spanish origins. A sparkling piano solo from Simcock added greatly to an already joyous atmosphere.
By contrast John Taylor's exuberant "Coffee Time" was given a dark twist by the group. Simcock's
improvised solo introduction was full of dense clusters and this was followed by a brooding passage
which saw Simcock reaching into the piano's innards whilst accompanied by bowed bass and bass
clarinet. Following a solo on bass clarinet Garland switched to soprano sax and a humorous ending
featured some amazing high register bass from Creese.
This concluded a first half that had been well received by a rapt audience, mainly of the classical
persuasion I would say. I certainly didn't recognise many of the Cheltenham Jazz regulars.
The second half of the concert commenced with another Garland composition entitled "As The Boy
Gathers His Dreams". This saw Garland positioning the bell of his tenor within the lid of the piano
to gain maximum echo and resonance. This thoughtful, lyrical piece proved to be a quiet delight.
Simcock's "Temple Of The Body" saw Garland alternating between soprano sax and bass clarinet with
Creese initially on bowed bass. Memorable solos came from the composer on piano, garland on bass
clarinet and Creese playing pizzicato. A unison passage for soprano sax, arco bass and piano brought
the piece to a close.
The versatile Garland has appeared with many great musicians over the years including pianist Chick
Corea and drummer Bill Bruford. He also leads his own bands and at one time was a member of Lammas,
a group combining folk and jazz melodies. Garland's folk based melody "Winding Wind" first saw the
light of day with Lammas.
Creese's bass intro was accompanied only by the snapping of Garland's fingers until the saxophonist
took up his soprano for a probing solo. Simcock followed him before the pair reprised their
soprano/piano dialogue from the first half.
Simcock's "Fundero" had undergone a few name changes before the composer settled on the current
title. Originally entitled "New Rhumba" the piece has a playful, Latin styled theme and featured
more slapped bass from Creese. Notable solos were delivered by Garland on bass clarinet and Simcock,
again making use of the piano's innards.
This was scheduled to be the last number but an appreciative audience called the trio back and after
a short discussion they agreed to perform Garland's arrangement of Ravel's "Soupir". Garland's
soprano blended perfectly with Simcock's thoughtful piano and Creese's masterful bass.
As always the trio had been very warmly received. Decorous enough to appeal to classical listeners
there is also enough improvisatory gristle to keep the hard-core jazzers happy.
Occasionally I miss the presence of a drummer but the brilliant standard of the musicianship and
the obvious joy the trio take in their music making more than compensates for this.
There is something for most discerning listeners in Acoustic Triangle's brand of "chamber jazz". The
term is sometimes used pejoratively but that context certainly doesn't apply here. Acoustic Triangle
are a fascinating band and their music is still developing. Theirs is a success story that is likely
to continue for quite a while yet.
See www.acoustictriangle.com for details of future concerts and album releases. The albums are
issued on Malcolm Creese's own Audio-B label and the full catalogue can be accessed via the site.
Gwilym Simcock has just released "Perception", his long awaited recording debut as a leader on the
Basho label. He will shortly be undertaking a UK tour in support of the album, which will be
launched on November 16th at the London Jazz Festival. See www.bashorecords.com and
www.gwilymsimcock.com for more details.
Review by Ian Mann.
THE BIRMINGHAM POST
Acoustic Triangle, Abbotsholme School Chapel
Although it is not always justified, the perception of contemporary classical music remains that it is designed more for the brain than the ears, more for the concept than the music.
It's probably not conscious on their part, but have you noticed how jazz musicians are moving to fill the void?
Double bass player Malcolm Creese, saxophonist Tim Garland and pianist Gwilym Simcock are happy squatters in that vacant space where easily accessible composition and clearly recognisable instrumental virtuosity still mean something. And audiences love it.
This concert was in a venue more accustomed to hosting chamber music, and this group, with its vital playing and easy manner, judged the mood perfectly.
Original pieces from Simcock and Garland opened the evening, the pianist's Ritual refusing to bow to jazz conventions, having the theme played by bowed bass and bass clarinet in unison, and the saxophone's Bourdion an equally composed and thoroughly structured piece until its finale which had Simcock and Garland 'trading fours' in true jazz tradition.
A highlight was the band's version of Kenny Wheeler's Sly Eyes, in which Garland began by playing long tenor saxophone notes under the lid of the grand piano and letting the resonated strings sing back to him. He the turned lounge lizard to accentuate the full louche nature of the tango.
The trio turned its attentions to Ravel in the second half with Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, before driving hard on the home stretch with more Wheeler, Garland and Simcock.
Simcock's sureness of touch and ability to build improvisations as complex in their structure as they are lithe in their propulsion; Garland's extraordinary command of his instruments; Creese's holding centre for the widening gyre - all combined to make this an inspiring performance in a charming setting.
The Romsey Advertiser, Friday 26th August 2005
Jazzing up the Abbey
Romsey Festival in conjunction with Music in Romsey achieved a notable
coup when Acoustic Triangle, three highly gifted and internationally
acclaimed jazz musicians, included Romsey Abbey as part of their 2005
Tour of Sacred Places.
Sacred buildings ranging from small chapels to noble Cathedrals possess
naturally 'live' acoustics and Romsey Abbey provided the ideal venue for
Acoustic Triangle's undoubted talents. Malcolm Creese, double bass, Tim
Garland, saxophones and bass clarinet and Gwilym Simcock, grand piano
and French horn gave the concert. Their philosophy is all about
performing without amplification, thereby relying on the natural
acoustic of the building. They enabled the audience to appreciate not
only the splendour of the building itself but also the pure sonorous
tones and unhampered blending of the instruments.
The programme reflected the performers' classical backgrounds and,
applying their high levels of musicianship to the jazz genre, including
a generous amount of individual and collectively spontaneous
improvisation, adding a further dimension to the overall performance.
The opening item, variations on the famous Miserere by the late 16th
Century Italian composer Gregorio Allegri, clearly showed the fusion of
classical and jazz styles. This was dramatically portrayed when, after a
series of subdued opening themes, Tim Garland, playing the saxophone,
slowly walked up the South Aisle from the West end of the Abbey to join
his two fellow performers at the head of the Nave as he music ebbed and
flowed eventually reaching a stunning conclusion. Thereafter the large
and appreciative audience were treated to a series of items portraying
further discernible elements of classical, jazz and folk music styles.
There were notable compositions by both Tim Garland, including Rosa
Ballerina and Winding Wind, and Gwilym Simcock's, Fundero and Nutshell,
all specially composed for the 2005 tour. The Group's leader and double
bassist Malcolm Creese, a Romsey resident, provided informative
introductions for each item. The concert was recorded as part of a
forthcoming CD following the trio's recent recording successes. The
evening proved to be a most rewarding experience and any future visit
would be thoroughly recommended.
Mercury Magazine, July 2005
Classical-jazz fusion makes for an eclectic musical evening in beautiful
Jazz trio Acoustic Triangle played on Friday night to a full house at St
Mary's - the smallest venue on their 2005 Tour of Sacred Places. They
play in Lincoln Cathedral on August 12th and Ely on September 22nd.
The delighted audience was treated to a wonderfully varied programme of
compositions by the three musicians and other composers ranging from
Ravel to Kenny Wheeler, whose composition Sly Eyes included a notable
solo where Tim Garland's tenor sax literally played the grand piano with
its strings resonating in response to Tim's developing solo.
On other pieces, the piano was superbly played by 24-year-old Gwilym
Simcock, whose new composition Fundero set feet tapping to its shifting
patterns of swirling rhythm and evocative sensuousness, echoed by the
bass clarinet of Tim Garland.
Gwilym opened on French horn, with Malcolm Creese on double bass
treating us to some wonderfully subtle bowing on variations on a theme
by Gregorio Allegri, before Gwilym took up the theme on piano, thus
demonstrating how improvised jazz and the classical tradition can live
together. On a medieval French dance, Malcolm Creese's bass was
augmented by Gwilym by the use of the piano frame and strings for
percussion, coupled with Tim Garland's saxophone to bring funky rhythms
to a folk tune. It is hard to know how to categorise contemporary music
of this kind as all three musicians have backgrounds in classical music
as well as their love for jazz.
Joyce Sandell and the music society at St Mary's are to be congratulated
on making it possible for us to hear such inspired playing and the
welcome change of hearing unamplified jazz in such a beautiful setting.
May this be the first of many other jazz events in the beautiful and
THE HEXHAM COURANT - September 23rd 2005
HARMONY WITHIN THREE POINTS OF THE TRIANGLE
ACOUSTIC TRIANGLE play inspiring music in inspiring buildings, not least
in cathedrals, churches and chapels across the UK. Moreover, they play
jazz, and they seek to involve the young in their educational work as
well as to enliven arts in public places.
What we heard in Hexham Abbey was outstanding instrumental
virtuosity, exuberance and joy in playing. This trio commanded our
attention with their spirited and polished interchanges in variation
Jazz? A certain kind of purist might dissent from an approach that
could be found strongly eclectic and classical. Others might dismiss
some of the mannerisms and clichés of jazz in a programme of
contemporary improvisation. What we heard however was firmly based in
jazz. Let others debate the pigeon holes.
The programme was chosen from originals by Bill Evans, John Taylor,
Kenny Wheeler, Maurice Ravel and two of the performers. The arrangements
and improvisations were appealing to the listener. From Acoustic
Triangle we got a musical language founded in tonal harmony, exploratory
and complex, but communicative, rich in flights of fancy and exciting
Two of the players, Tim Garland (saxophones and bass clarinet) and
Gwilym Simcock (piano and French horn) were also well represented as
composers and arrangers. Malcolm Creese (double bass) was the
co-ordinator and presenter, giving us modestly an outstanding display of
expert bass playing, plucked and bowed.
Acoustic - yes, not a microphone, amplifier or loudspeaker in sight.
What a relief! All was matched to the acoustic of the transept, and
THE GUARDIAN - 20th July 2005
Acoustic Triangle - St. Mary's, Chester
The latest tour by the chamber-jazz trio Acoustic Triangle finds them
playing sacred buildings up and down the country. Given that abbeys,
cathedrals and churches tend to boast wonderful acoustics this seems a
natural move for a band famous for its non-amplified performances. But there
is another motive; according to bassist and project instigator Malcolm
Creese, the tour is an attempt to redefine sacred spaces as secular
hubs of culture and community, as well an opportunity to create some
long-term new venues in an increasingly ailing live circuit. High minded
ideals indeed, and fortunately Acoustic Triangle have some high-minded,
frequently breath-taking music to go with them.
The concert began with Creese standing alone, stained glass glowing gently
behind him. As he began bowing an elegant lament, a disembodied French horn
and saxophone floated in from somewhere else inside the church, eventually
becoming visible in the hands of Gwilym Simcock and Tim Garland, who then
joined Creese on stage. Following this highly effective overture, Simcock
switched to piano and the trio launched into an ambitious set which found
them perfectly weaving together contemporary British jazz with elements of
European concert music.
The set contained ambitious and attractive pieces by Simcock and Garland
(the latter contributed the second movement from his fiendishly difficult
piano concerto), along with tunes by Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and Stan
Tracey. There was also a richly layered reading of Ravel's Trois Poèmes de
Stéphane Mallarmé, in which the division between composed sections and
instrumental flights of fantasy became artfully blurred.
Simcock proved himself a jaw-droppingly exciting pianist, particularly on
the more rhythmic, self-penned tunes such as Rhumba. Garland's propensity
for ecstatic million note flurries was tempered by his evident interest in
atmospherics; at one point he blew a ghostly solo into the opened piano lid
while Simcock held down the sustain pedal. An eclectic, adventurous
performance by three undisputed masters of the game.
JAZZWISE - August 2005
Acoustic Triangle - St. James's Piccadilly
There is a continual backdrop of concern at the ever diminishing
circuit of venues that are prepared to mount honest to goodness live
improvised music, so Acoustic Triangle's step into some of the more
inspiring religious buildings in Britain just for that purpose has to be
a good one. Their appearance St. James's, Piccadilly in June was part of
the 2005 Tour of Sacred Places that will continue for most of the rest
of the year, on and off.
Acoustic Triangle (Malcolm Creese, Tim Garland and Gwilym Simcock)
recently put out a well received (and well recorded) CD that stated
their aesthetic and acoustic case quite convincingly so it was no
surprise to hear this trio exploit the sonorities available to them in
the fine space that is St. James's in London's Piccadilly.
Creese, in his programme notes to the tour brochure, comments that
churches have long been community centres for a wide range of
activities, and his trio's purpose in playing music in churches was to
help bring these wonderful spaces back into community use outside of the
formal religious usage most people nowadays exclusively associate them
with. Must say I agree with that. Nothing wrong with a pew, as long as
what's going on up front has a point and some greater meaning. The
Triangle certainly has that.
In a programme that drew on compositions form Garland and Simcock
from the band but also from Kenny Wheeler, Stan Tracey, Ralph Towner and
Cole Porter, as well as arrangement of a couple of classical pieces from
Allegri (yes, the Miserere) and Ravel (no, not the Bolero, or even the
Pavane), it showed that a drummerless acoustic group could vary and
shade its textures in beguiling ways and keep an audience hooked. It
also helped that Garland is an expert on a number of wind instruments,
including bass clarinet (a delicious sound in St. James's), thereby
keeping the aural mix a tasty one.
So - coming soon to a church near you. Check 'em out.
Review of Concert at Leicester International Music Festival
Venue: New Walk Museum - 17/06/04 - Reviewed by LEICESTER MERCURY Friday 18th June 2004
PERFECT MARRIAGE OF ACOUSTIC JAZZ AND CLASSICAL
Once upon a time, all music was like this. With no drummer and no
amplification, Malcolm Creese's trio Acoustic Triangle have to listen
hard and pay special attention to volume and balance.
The results are just extraordinary. With unamplified double bass and the
museum's excellent piano, the sound is intimate and lovely.
Creese, saxophonist Tim Garland and the remarkable young pianist Gwilym
Simcock have the sort of technique that makes the playing of music seem
effortless, and a collective concentration that borders on telepathy.
The marriage of acoustic jazz and European classical music hasn't always
been a happy one, but this is no Jacques Loussier pastiche; this band
take all their music seriously, and create a blend that is probably
unique in Britain.
The closest match would be with the haunting chamber jazz of the German
ECM label, and appropriately the set included tunes by three ECM
musicians: pianist John Taylor, guitarist Ralph Towner and trumpeter
Having arrived at a sound that works, Acoustic Triangle are perhaps a
little too inclined to stick with it. One might look for a greater
variation in tone, something to provide a foil to all that richness.
But there is still something wonderful at hearing three players
apparently spinning music out of nowhere.
Acoustic Triangle - Peterhouse, Cambridge 3rd August 2007
It was Friday night in Peterhouse College Theatre - the penultimate
night of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. The performers were
Acoustic Triangle, a trio which plays new music composition on piano
(Gwilym Simcock), double bass (Malcolm Creese), and saxophone and bass
clarinet (Tim Garland) in a style 'from ancient themes and folk styles
through impressionism and the jazz era to the avant-garde'. It was a
music performance of sheer velvet, laced with moments of tuned-in
synchronicity causing the audience to gasp with delight many times.
One such moment was in Tim Garland's composition Black Elk. Simcock
started slowly on the piano playing for about five minutes, when he was
joined by Garland's saxophone bringing a complete rhythmic change. As
the improvisation evolved, the piano and saxophone moved together
effortlessly, weaving tightly up and down scales one minute, then in
contrary motion the next. The only thing that distinguished the sound
was the different instruments.
Fun and delight permeated the evening, saturating Gwilym Simcock's piece
Fundero. It was very lively, demanding a real test of musicianship. At
one point Simcock dampened the piano strings with this left hand whilst
depressing the keyboard with his right hand, creating a percussive
rhythmic, drum-like sound effect with each stroke. The audience, visibly
enjoying this, smiled throughout.
Trois Poèmes de Stephane Mallarmé, arranged by Tim Garland, displayed
Ravel's wonderful harmonic sense. The musicians gave this everything -
beautiful piano touch, outstanding lyrical saxophone, gorgeous double
bass bowing - it was all absorbing. The audience were so mesmerised they
nearly forgot to clap!
Best of all was Coffee Time written by John Taylor. Intense and
demanding, it was well within Simcock's capability. He just threw it off
like an old shirt. Several times his fellow musicians join in randomly.
As he improvised they watched him closely, arriving together,
punctuating the piece with the same note at the same time - in perfect
pitch. The effect was stunning and created excitement for the audience
who watched for it to happen again and again.
The most appealing thing about this concert was its combination of
structured new music composition alongside jazz/classical improvisation.
At no time did the audience feel lost because their attention was held
throughout. With their musical taste buds challenged, they savoured the
complete treat. The whole evening's performance was a real pleasure.
Anne L Ryan
2005 Tour of Sacred Places Archive |
Concert Schedule |