Monday, November 1, 2010

Tenor-Bari Matt Garrison Scores with "Familiar Places"

I try to listen with open ears to anything I am sent. In the case of players with whom I am not very familiar, I never know what to expect. Pleasant surprises are not especially frequent, but gratifying when they come. One such surprise came with a new CD by Matt Garrison, a young tenor-baritone player. Familiar Places (D Clef 152) shows his compositional and playing abilities to good advantage. It's a large group with seven horns (Matt plus, among others, Claudio Roditi on trumpet/flugel, Michael Dease, trombone, and Sharel Cassity, here on flute). Then there's a rhythm section/second line of guitar, piano etc.

Everybody sounds good here, but it is the quasi-Blue-Note-like arrangements of the horns and Matt's playing that grab me especially. These are mostly Garrison originals. He writes for horns quite well. It's that lush cushion of voicings that you may be familiar with from some of the choice early-mid-sixties albums by guys like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Hank Mobley and such, but updated with some contemporary wrinkles so that it sounds fresh.

Matt Garrison plays a slightly cool, clean sax line that impresses me as being not entirely capable of pigeonholing. That's very good, of course.

All in all the music has that contemporary-meets-classic-Blue-Note-mainstream feel that Amina Figarova also is working within (see this blog for some of her music). Both do it very well.

More than nice, this is a very coherent and enjoyable disk. Matt Garrison has a voice that I hope will continue to be heard in the years to come. I am quite impressed with his music.

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