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Bebop Spoken There

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

CD Review: Serpent - Alex Garnett.

Alex Garnett (ten); Anthony Wonsey (pno); Michael Janisch (bs); Willie Jones III (dms).
Close your eyes and it could be a '50s blowing session by Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson or Dex 'cept...
... 'cept Garnett has also absorbed later saxophone gurus such as Joe Lovano and George Garzone and the end result is an intricate weave of those influences culminating in a sound that is totally today without straying too far beyond the jazz parameter.
Blueprint is aptly titled, a blueprint on how 21st century bebop should be played - looking forward with occasional over the shoulder glances.
Dracula's Lullaby is, not surprisingly, quite a sinister sounding ballad whilst Saluda Hakim is straight, no-nonsense, hard bop (Rudy Van Gelder would love this track.)
The Pimp has some driving tenor over a compulsive latin rhythm. Pianist Wonsey, incidentally, plays superb piano throughout and never less than on this track. His loping lines and punctuated chords keep the leader well fed with inspiration.Serpent is indeed serpentine the way Garnett twists and turns his way around the changes but, once again, dig Wonsey's solo as he sets up Garnett for the kill. Jones the Third also has his moment in the glorious sun.
Atonement is perhaps the most unusual track I've heard for a long time by any modern band.
Forget the title - it's actually The Saints!
However, these saints don't march in - it's more as if they'd learned the secret of turning the water into wine and they go boogieing in until, I guess, head office heard of the scandalous goings on and it becomes a more sombre mood - atonement in fact!
What a great disc! What a great band - not forgetting Michael Janisch on bass - a tower of strength.
Garnett and Janisch, along with Ross Stanley (pno) and Andrew Bain (dms) take to the road in September culminating in a CD launch at The Hideaway on Sept 14. Sadly this 'tour' doesn't reach the north-east.
Maybe one day... In the meantime, the CD - Serpent (Whirlwind - WR4615) - is due for release on Sept 5. Lance.

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