Review: Alex Garnett - Andromeda


So Long!; Charlie’s World; Andromeda; Delusions Of Grandma; Early Autumn; Her Tears; Holmes; I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (60.41)
Alex Garnett, Tim Armacost (ts); Liam Noble (p); Michael Janisch (b); James Maddren (d). London, 25 Nov 2013.
Whirlwind 4664

This is the second leader-release from London-based saxophonist Alex Garnett and the first for his Bunch of Five, the band that sets out to reboot the time-honoured two-tenor joust. The emphasis is on swing and groove while leaving space for some contemporary surprises. The Five consists of Garnett himself, a second tenor, Armacost, and a more than useful rhythm section led by Liam Noble. Six originals show Garnett’s skill at producing lines for improvising that are also listenable as themes. Andromeda, Alex tells us, is a comet, hurtling towards us on a fatal collision course but as she has been coming along for millennia, she’s a wee bit late arriving!

All the songs have some personal meaning or interest for the leader. Early Autumn is his nod to an old favourite, Stan Getz, and this is a warm and melodic version that is Alec’s own. I’ve Got My Love is a bright swinger. The opening track So Long is the best for comparison between the two robust tenors; they have a lot in common and their exchanges here point that up. The rhythm section provide a challenging but effective backdrop for the tenor men. Delusions Of Grandma is a hard uptempo swinger with both sax men blowing up a storm and proving the subject to be a fast and furious old lady.

The two standards prove good choices for blowing; one slow and sumptuous, the other an uptempo romp. Garnett is the lighter sounding tenor, the NYC-based Armacost slightly harder and boppish and they complement each other well. It is in effect a very good partnership in the tradition of Griffin and Davis or Ammons and Stitt, likely to appeal to all followers of those masters. More details at Whirlwind.
Derek Ansell

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