First Light Edition Records)
From the release of his debut album, Telescope (Dune records), way back in 2007 British pianist Andrew McCormack has been steadily building a reputation as a fine musician and composer. Along the way he served his time as a more than able sideman with the likes of Jean Toussant, Kyle Eastwood, Denys Baptiste among others. However, it was his collaboration with saxophonist Jason Yarde, first on My Duo in 2009 and followed up with the marvellous Places and Other Spaces (Edition Records, 2011) which cemented his reputation as a composer and improviser of note.
McCormack has an expressive and emotive way of joining the dots — imagine a mix of Jarrett and McCoy Tyner — and his playing on this fine recording — eight originals and one, ‘Pannonica’, penned by Thelonious Monk — is a joy. These days the pianist is based in New York and joining him on this impressive body of work are bassist Zack Loper and drujmer Colin Stranahan.
Standout pieces are the opening track, ‘Prospect’ Park — as joyous and upbeat a calling card as you could get; followed by the third track, the wonderfully restless and quirky ‘Leap of Faith’. The outstanding track is ‘Vista’, where for nearly seven marvellous minutes the interplay with Loper and Stranahan is so tight and controlled you would think the band have been together as a unit for years. An album well worth seeking out.
Songs To The North Sky (Edition)
Also worth seeking out, and on the same label, is Tim Garland’s double cd offering Songs to the North Sky (Edition). It’s an imaginative and impressive body of work where the saxophonist brings together two complimentary projects: first with his Lighthouse band and the second a far more orchestral affair. It’s a clever approach and one which not only showcases Garland’s talents as a player and composer but also highlights his ability to bridge the worlds of jazz and contemporary classical music as player, composer and arranger. It’s a breathtaking and mammoth recording and will surely form the basis for the end-of-year list of ‘must have’ recordings with its combination of a 30-piece string orchestra fused with saxophones and percussion.
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