I was positively surprised when I received the latest album by saxophonist Tim Garland, who turns 49 today, on vinyl. “Return To The Fire” is the sequel to Tim’s “Enter The Fire” album and, like he says in the liner notes, “a heartfelt homage to the music that stops me in my tracks…”. The new compositions were written while Tim was on tour with Chick Corea and he assembled most of the guys from the earlier record plus a few more: Gerard Presencer on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jason Rebello on piano and rhodes, Mick Hutton on bass, and Jeremy Stacey on drums.
The album is clearly, like Tim says, a dedication to the late 50s period in jazz, when a lot of sax/trumpet records were the hottest recording dates. And so “Abiding Love” is a more than a welcome reminder of that powerful period and some of the playing reminds me of the great Benny Golson/Art Farmer recordings from that particular era. Simply put: straight-ahead playing at its best with some well-oiled solos and emphasis on the song structure.
J.J. Johnson‘s “Lament” features a moving, sensitive Jason Rebello on piano and just that moment when Tim returns after a short Jason solo, is worth the purchase. Side A (yes, this is a vinyl album, and a very good-sounding one) concludes with the title track, another trumpet/sax/piano midtempo swing cut with enough oomph not to lose interest.
Side B opens with “Valse Pour Ravel” with some beautiful soprano sax lines by Tim who plays some of his most lyrical phrases on this one. The melody is simply delicious. And with McCoy Tyner‘s “Search For Peace”, another classic example of that 50s/60s group sound (the track was originally recorded for “The Real McCoy” LP in 1967 with Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, and Elvin Jones) comes to the fore. Tim keeps the frugal tranquility of the original alive and the passionate playing from all involved is extremely reflective and warm. I need to check back on Jason’s albums as well – his playing is so complete. Proven also by his rhodes playing on “All Our Summers”, a funky original which also features Ant Law on guitar and brings this LP to a joyful and hilarious end. Kudos to the guys at Edition for releasing this on vinyl and digitally only. CDs are so yesterday, right?