An Introduction to Tim Garland
Tim Garland was born in Ilford, Essex on 19th October 1966, the same year as Julian Siegel, Julian Argüelles and Julian Joseph. He was raised in Canterbury, Kent in a musical family. His father was a cellist and music lover, his older brother played the drums and his older sister played the flute. The young Tim Garland played clarinet and piano to grade eight standard and began composing music at a young age. At 15 he began playing the alto saxophone and has early memories of first hearing Michael Brecker on the first Steps Ahead album whilst in a record shop in Canterbury. Around that time he also began listening to Keith Jarrett and other ECM albums, as well as seeing Tony Coe perform live.
Garland went on to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music where he played piano and saxophone, and performed on an old Fender Rhodes keyboard. Whilst there he immersed himself in the sounds of composers such as Takemitsu, Scriabin and Messian.
He formed a quintet with friends from the Guildhall (including pianist Robin Aspland) and recorded his first album with them, Points on the Curve, in 1988. A year later he won the BBC Soloist Award and formed the jazz/folk fusion band Lammas with Scottish poet and musician Don Paterson, which included vocalist Christine Tobin.
During 1990 Garland spent six months touring and performing in the Ronnie Scott Quintet, as a temporary replacement for Dick Pearce. In 1991 Lammas released their first album, which featured trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. After touring extensively with Lammas, the band were awarded the Best Ensemble Award at the 1993 British Jazz Awards. In 1996 he performed in a duet with ECM guitarist Ralph Towner.
In 1998 Tim Garland released what was to be his breakthrough album, Enter the Fire which featured Jason Rebello on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Jeremy Stacey on drums. Whilst in New York visiting his friend Joe Locke, he was introduced to pianist Billy Childs, who was impressed with Garland’s Enter the Fire album and gave a copy to his friend Chick Corea. A few months later, Tim Garland was invited to join Chick Corea’s group Origin on a tour of the US in 1999 and the two have worked together on numerous projects ever since.
In the early noughties, Garland performed in the Dankworth Generation Band, the Allan Ganley Big Band, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks and started his own big band, the Dean Street Underground Orchestra (which later merged with Earthworks).
As well as working with Chick Corea at this time, he also joined the trio groups Storms/Nocturnes and Acoustic Triangle (who performed acoustic jazz in unique spaces around Britain). Around this time he also relocated to the North-East to take up a fellowship at Newcastle University and was their composer-in-residence. He moved with his family to Whitley Bay and was impressed by the acoustic sound of the local lighthouse. He visited the lighthouse on several occasions and recorded his bass clarinet improvisations there. The result of these sessions was the 2005 album If the Sea Replied which combines the voice of the lighthouse keeper with the sounds of Garland’s bass clarinet and the strings of the Northern Sinfonia.
In 2006 he was voted Musician of the Year by the Cross-Parliamentary Jazz Society. Garland also formed his own small ensemble, the Lighthouse trio which released two critically acclaimed albums.
A big fan of ECM albums as a teenager, Garland worked diligently on new arrangements for a re-recording of the classic Chick Corea/Gary Burton album Crystal Silence. The end result was the 2008 album The New Crystal Silence, for which Garland won a Grammy award for his arrangements.
His latest album, Songs for the North Sky, was critically acclaimed when it was released in May of this year on Dave Stapleton’s Edition label. Both The Guardian’s John Fordham and The Observer’s Dave Gelly gave it five stars.
Tim Garland is currently touring the UK.
Tim Garland Discography
Interview with Tim Garland
Tim Garland answers questions put to him by Sussex Jazz Mag editor Charlie Anderson.
Your latest album has a very original sound. Where do you get your ideas from?
“I love to get the very best out of everyone on stage. Often this means tapping into the most unique things about your players, such as Asaf Sirkis' cultural background. It's a true band and not just a backing for me!”
What process do you go through when you compose?
“The best things I've written are for specific people, where there is a clear end to visualise, in mind. The only changing process about composition is that I have to have it formed very clearly mentally before it can manifest.”
You’ve worked a lot with Chick Corea, most recently last year in his band The Vigil. What’s it like performing with such a unique musician?
“I've just come back from a nine week tour with Chick. At times it was exhausting. To play jazz in stadiums to thousands of people is a precious thing these days and takes a certain approach, you have to know the material really well. Chick is very open, very focused and I hope I'm like him when I'm 73!”
You’re just starting a tour of the UK, which includes a concert in Brighton with Jason Rebello and Asaf Sirkis. What can we expect to hear?
“On the 25th you'll hear the best small group I've ever had! I feel the experience I've had these days has helped me get everyone sounding at their best!”
I remember you saying once at a masterclass about the triangle of melody, harmony and rhythm. Could you explain that and how it can help improvisors.
“Yes, harmony – as something to focus on in improvisation, should be balanced with rhythmic ideas and melodic ideas if you are to get the most variation and vitality in your playing. It is like a triangle. Sometimes texture too, can be an idea unto itself. We should strive to be as complete players as possible.”
Tim Garland performs music from Songs to the North Sky at St. George's Church in Kemptown on Saturday 25th October 2014.
For more details of this concert: www.brightonjazzclub.co.uk
For more on Tim Garland: www.timgarland.com
This interview appears in issue 30 of The Sussex Jazz Mag, available here.