HI-FI NEWS - MAY 2006
Dorchester Abbey and Romsey Abbey, where these tracks were recorded,
were just two of 28 venues this trio filled with acoustic music on their
2005 Tour of Sacred Places. Leader Malcolm Creese plays bass, with Tim
Garland on saxes and Gwilym Simcock on piano - except on the haunting
soprano-sax-led arrangement of Allegri's Miserere Mei, where he adds an
atmospheric French horn. The music is mostly dreamy but varied and never
vapid, the standout being Stan Tracey's Under Milkwood.
Maybe this could have benefitted from multichannel but we don't hear
enough of acoustic instruments in real space today, so you've got to
applaud Acoustic Triangle's efforts. Especially if they help alert more
people to the danger of some wonderful buildings being pulled down.
HI-FI PLUS - MAY 2006
Recorded during Acoustic Triangle's critically acclaimed Tour of
Sacred Places in 2005 this set was captured during performances at
Romsey Abbey, Hampshire and Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire. Tim Garland
is quoted in the notes as saying that "The building is the fourth member
of our trio". How right he is.
An arrangement of Allegri's Miserere Mei opens with delicately-bowed
bass from Malcolm Creese, Garland's soprano sax soaring heavenwards
conveying the spaciopus acoustic of Dorchester Abbey. The trio's version
of Kenny Wheeler's Everyone's Song But My Own showcases the band's
virtuosity, opening with a dexterous bass solo from Creese, before
Garland kicks in with a breathy and quite beatiful tenor solo before
handing the reins to Simcock for some exquisite piano.
The band's strength is that they are all masters of their
instruments and of subtle interplay which they demonstrate througout
this set, yet never resort to overt showmanship, gaining strength from
this subtlety of approach. The set closes with a lovely reading of Stan
Tracey's Under Milkwood that can easily hold its own alongside the
original. It's that good.
The two previous releases from this gifted trio have been hugely
rewarding. This lovely set is no exception and is their strongest
recorded work to date.
Recording: 9 out of 10
Music: 9 out of 10
Review by John Fordham
Friday December 9, 2005
Malcolm Creese, the British double-bassist, can't pass a church without
going in - to experience the light, colours, the architecture, and most
of all the sounds. Creese combined his love of churches with his
devotion to unplugged music and an enterprising search for an unlikely
new club circuit when he set up this year's 28-dates of ecclesiastical
venues for Acoustic Triangle - featuring sometime Chick Corea sax
sideman Tim Garland and newly arrived piano prodigy Gwilym Simcock.
Resonance features 10 pieces, by the band's members and by Kenny Wheeler
and Stan Tracey, recorded live at Romsey and Dorchester Abbeys.
Delicately nuanced chamber-jazz it certainly is, but there's plenty of
muscle and energy, with Garland sounding full-bodied and exultant as
well as pure-toned and lyrical, Creese surefooted and mellow, and
pianist Gwilym Simcock frequently dazzling, especially on a tumultuous
unaccompanied feature. Garland's bass clarinet and Simcock's French horn
make the soundscape surprisingly wide, and though much of it is
light-stepping and soft, a lot of it swings, and the Stan Tracey piece
is positively Ellingtonesque.
JAZZWISE MAGAZINE - FEBRUARY 2006
Eugenio Montale has written about the second life of art, that having
been exposed to it, it must inhabit our imagination, using the example
of a theme from the opera being whistled in the street or a phrase by a
poet quoted in conversation. The strangely beautiful music on Resonance
succeeds in doing much the same; its themes playing and replaying in the
mind when you least expect it. The ethereal quality of this music speaks
in many tongues and invites many interpretations. But from whatever
premise such evaluations are made they will have to acknowledge the
primacy of musical values that remain eternal - melody, its presentation
and the variations that flow from it, harmony that can move in
unexpected directions and rhythm, whether rubato or implicit, that is
the lifeblood of these compositions. The interesting thing about the
choice of repertoire, recorded live in Romsey and Dorchester Abbeys, is
not whether it is a classical theme (Miserere Mei), an original by Kenny
Wheeler (Everyone's Song But My Own), Stan Tracey (Under Milkwood) or
one of the seven originals by either Garland or Simcock, it is how the
group inhabit each piece from within and stamp it with their joint
personalities to make this such a successful joint endeavour.
BBC online - January 2006
Acoustic Triangle is possibly the finest chamber jazz outfit working in
the UK at the moment. Led by bassist Malcolm Creese and comprising Tim
Garland (winds) and rising star Gwilym Simcock (piano, French horn),
they live up to their name by playing (most of) their gigs entirely
This CD was recorded on their recent tour of sacred buildings and
features performances recorded at Romsey and Dorchester Abbeys. The trio
explores these fantastic acoustic spaces with grace, delicacy and
muscle. Folkish melodies, Italian church music and old chestnuts from
Kenny Wheeler and Stan Tracey rub shoulders in a thoughtful, engaging
set that knocks spots off the pale, tired atmospherics of the current
VORTEX JAZZ WEB SITE - JANUARY 2006
For their third album (their first featured John Horler as pianist),
Acoustic Triangle - bassist Malcolm Creese, saxophonist Tim Garland,
pianist Gwilym Simcock - have produced a record of their recent tour of
UK churches (Creese's eloquent liner note expounds his belief that these
currently under-utilised buildings could be rendered useful to their
respective communities by hosting concerts rather than housing dwindling
numbers of worshippers). Their preference for playing entirely
acoustically makes for a pure-toned group sound peculiarly appropriate
to church acoustics, and their material - mostly Simcock and Garland
originals, but including Kenny Wheeler's celebrated 'Everyone's Song but
My Own' and Stan Tracey's 'Under Milkwood' - is perfectly judged,
whether dancing, sprightly themes featuring Garland's agile soprano
('Bourdion') or tender, wistful tenor ('As the Boy Gathers His Dreams'),
or pieces showcasing Simcock's lyrical, rippling piano under bass
clarinet ('From the Land'), or tricksily good-natured group interplay
('Fundero'). Informed by all three men's assurance in the fields of
classical, folk and improvised music, this is a gem of an album,
elegant, delicate and supremely tasteful, but imbued with sufficient
jazz spirit to render it unequivocally enjoyable. Unreservedly
ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM AND EJAZZNEWS.COM - JANUARY 2006
In a 2003 interview, drummer Peter Erskine spoke about playing in
concert halls with such inherently good acoustics that PA systems were
unnecessary. "...audiences love it, they absolutely love it. The world
has gotten so noisy, and things have gotten so dense and assaultive,
that people are grateful for a chance to rest their ears, rest their
spirits and maybe their psyches."
Acoustic Triangle understands, perhaps more than most, the significance
of Erskine's words. Formed by British bassist Malcolm Creese with
woodwind multi-instrumentalist Tim Garland at the turn of the decade,
the trio's name is no exaggeration. Not only are their performances
completely acoustic with no PA system to be found, their records are
equally organic, recorded in churches with stunning natural resonance
and minimal miking.
Resonance - the trio's third release and the second to feature the
line-up of Creese, Garland and twenty-something pianist Gwilym Simcock -
is aptly-titled, referring not only to the richly-textured aural
landscape they create, but also the deeply evocative chamber jazz they
make. Previous discs were recorded live in church halls with no editing
or post-processing, but Resonance is the first album to be recorded live
in front of an audience.
That the three musicians are experienced in classical and jazz worlds is
immediately evident on Garland's arrangement of 17th century composer
Gregori Allegri's "Miserere Mei." The room is truly the fourth member of
the group, rich in natural reverberation as Creese's warm arco is joined
by Simcock on French horn and Garland on soprano saxophone. Things
become more intimate when Simcock switches to piano and the trio begins
taking more improvisational liberties. That they can expand on Allegri's
beautifully spiritual music without tarnishing its lyrical innocence is
demonstrative of the distinctive language the trio has developed in
surprisingly little time.
The trio also continues its tradition of covering trumpeter Kenny
Wheeler - in this case "Everyone's Song But My Own," one of the most
enduring songs of Wheeler's large oeuvre. While Creese is most often
heard either in support of Garland and Simcock or as an equal
contrapuntal partner, he begins the tune with an imaginatively
rhythm-based solo reminiscent of Dave Holland - evidence of his sadly
undervalued status outside the UK. When Garland and Simcock enter it
becomes the disc's most overtly swinging track, with Simcock's solo
mature beyond his years and Garland's lithe yet robust tenor reason
enough why Chick Corea continues to enlist him for projects including
Origin and the upcoming The Ultimate Adventure.
But Acoustic Triangle's real strength lies in Garland and Simcock's
original compositions. Garland's bright "Bourdion" references one of his
seminal influences, Ralph Towner, the combination of soprano sax, piano
and bass feeling distinctly Oregon-esque. Simcock's "Ritual" inhabits
darker and more impressionistic territory, with Garland's bass clarinet
and Creese's arco bass developing Simcock's arcing theme.
It's the combination of detailed through-composition and seamless
improvisation that distinguishes Acoustic Triangle, and with Resonance
the trio continues to develop its own language - chamber jazz as natural
and compelling as it is complex and vividly multi-layered.
jazzviews.co.uk - January 2006
Jazz and classical musical seem to be inextricably bound, at times
strange bedfellows and at others when the music, and musicians, are
right the results can be breathtakingly beautiful. On this recording,
the music and musicians are most definitely right.
This is the third album from Acoustic Triangle whose blending of
classical and folk music with contemporary jazz has captivated all who
have heard them. The previous two discs, the acclaimed 2001 debut album
Interactions and the award-winning 2003 release Catalyst were recorded
in the natural acoustic of St George's in Bristol under 'studio'
conditions, the new album was recorded in Romsey Abbey, Hampshire and
Dorchester Abbey in Oxford in front of an audience during the groups
recent Tour Of Sacred Places taking in some 30 dates throughout the UK.
The tour, a massive undertaking, found the band playing in sacred
buildings from small chapels to vast Cathedrals, and utilising the
superb acoustics provided by each individual location. This way of
playing, without any amplification, not only brings the listener closer
to the music with a fuller understanding of just how the sounds were
created (no after-the-event editing or added reverb), but also forces
the musicians to react differently to each other and the space in which
they are performing. The dynamics of each instrument must be perfectly
blended with the other musicians in the ensemble, requiring careful
listening from all concerned.
The music on this most satisfying of CDs has been carefully chosen not
only to give a balanced feel to the set in terms of variety of dynamics
and rhythm, but also to reflect the particular venue in which they are
being performed. The opening number is Tim Garland's arrangement of the
Gregorio Allegri's Miserere Mei (Have Mercy On Me), which finds each
member of the trio occupying separate area of the building. This allows
for a particularly inspirational dialogue between Creese's arco double
bass, soprano saxophone and Simcock's French horn before he returns to
his more usual place at the piano.
Simcock also contributes some intriguing original compositions to go in
tandem with his phenomenal piano playing. 'Ritual' has more than a
passing reference the classical tradition that all three musicians
embrace with a passion, whilst 'Nutshell' is more firmly in tune with
the group's jazz sensibilities with a playful and conversational lines
for piano and soprano. He also manages to sneak in a three minute
improvisation, subsequently titled 'Solo Piano Interlude', that is pure
fun off the cuff.
Saxophonist, Tim Garland, also gets in on the composer credits with
'From The Land' featuring his lovely bass clarinet playing working with
bass and piano, and a piece written especially for performances in large
churches 'As The Boy Gathers His Dreams' that features his sumptuous
tenor playing with a strong yet seemingly simple and effortless melody
line that perfectly capture dreams of the young and innocent (the song
is dedicated to his young son).
Throughout, Malcolm Creese's flowing bass lines are clearly audible.
Never one to over emphasise his role, he modestly keeps the engine room
ticking over. Or so it seems at first. More careful listening reveals
just how clever his musical thinking is. On the quietly reflective
classical pieces and ballads his line is strong yet delicate, well
chosen notes, and more importantly spaces, allow each to be considered
and savoured. When he needs to increase the tempo and rhythmic thrust,
again he is right on the nail, yet never forsakes his superb tone for
the sake of speed.
In short, Acoustic Triangle are to be treasured in the hope that this
fruitful partnership should continue to grow and flourish for many years
to come. These three world calls musicians are currently inhabiting a
space all of their own, and should be supported on every step of their
journey. Just listen to their interpretation of Stan Tracey's 'Under
Milkwood'. Does it get much better than this? I think not.
THE SUNDAY TIMES - JANUARY 29TH 2006
There is a sense of profound calm at the heart of the chamber trio led
by the double basist Malcolm Creese. If you missed last year's Sacred
Places tour, here is your chance to rest in a pew and savour the
intimate group dynamics. Reeds player Tim Garland's setting of Allegri's
Miserere makes a suitably pensive opener. On the originals, the
interplay between Creese, Garland and pianist/French horn player Gwilym
Simcock occasionally echoes the overly self-conscious dialogues of the
venerable Azimuth. But the classical motifs are beautifully handled, and
Simcock's Fundero is the cue for some effortless pirouettes.
THE TIMES - JANUARY 28TH 2006 ****
Jan Garbarek's million-selling forays with the Hilliard Ensemble show
that there's a place for the jazzman in church. Now following them up
the aisle are Acoustic Triangle, the brainchild of the bassist and lover
of old buildings Malcolm Creese, who with the piano prodigy Gwilym
Simcock and Tim Garland on saxes toured the churches of Britain last
Recorded in the glowing acoustics of Dorchester and Romsey Abbeys, their
lyrical chamber jazz stretches from Gregorio Allegri's 17th Century
Miserere Mei via original material to Stan Tracey's Under Milkwood. The
emphasis is on melody and subtle improvisation - though by the time they
reach Simcock's dance-like Fundero there is a hint of swing too.
Occasionally, you wish that the trio would embellish a little less and
just enjoy the resonances of their venerable venues; nevertheless, their
multilayered music gently draws you in.
THE OBSERVER - JANUARY 29TH 2006
This remarkable trio - bassist Malcolm Creese, pianist Gwilym Simcock
and Tim Garland, playing saxophone and bass clarinet - inhabits the rich
borderland between jazz and classical music, and there is nothing quite
like it. The music, recorded live in Romsey and Dorchester Abbeys,
manages to be both serene and exhilharating, as the melodies expand in
the naturally resonant spaces. These ten pieces range from Gregorio
Allegri's 400-year-old Miserere Mei to Stan Tracey's Under Milkwood, but
Simcock's Ritual and Garland's As The Boy Gathers His Dreams are the
most absorbing of all.
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY - JANUARY 8TH 2006
Anyone who's heard the pianist Gwilym Simcock in person knows that he's
a star already, but here's incontrovertible proof. Recorded live at
Romsey and Dorchester abbeys, where the spacious settings add a
wonderful natural reverb to the repertoire of ten tunes, the co-op trio
of Malcolm Creese (double bass), Tim Garland (saxes and bass clarinet)
and Simcock (grand piano and tenor horn) succeeds in making chamber-jazz
sound both lively and varied. The theme gradually emerges through the
smoke and fog of site-specific atmospherics from bowed bass, soprano sax
and tenor horn.
Back to main Resonance page