Michael Garrick: M. Garrick (piano); D. Green (bass guitar); C. Barnes (drums).
Personnel: Michael Garrick (piano); Colin Barnes (drums).
Audio Remasterer: John Brooks.
Liner Note Authors: Jonny Trunk; Michael Garrick.
Recording information: London, England (1964).
Moonscape is the first trio offering by famed British pianist, organist, and composer Michael Garrick. Garrick, who has since worked with everyone from Joe Harriott to Neil Ardley to Ian Carr to Don Rendell, is also a man of letters and has conducted and participated in more than 2,300 concerts of jazz and poetry. This set is the true Holy Grail of modern British jazz, and thanks to famed collector and blogger Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records, is available (on both CD and vinyl) widely for the first time since it was released in an edition of 99 copies on 10" 33-rpm vinyl in 1964. This is not some flawed early attempt at being the leader of a trio -- Garrick was already one. Instead, it is a remarkable, diverse collection of six tunes (all original compositions) that pointed the way for the era of British jazzmen to come. One can hear in this set the beautifully experimental (yet playful and accessible) rhythmic pointillism that Paul Bley was messing about with around the same time in "A Face in the Crowd" (with some arco playing by bassist David Green), initially composed to accompany a poem by Jeremy Robson. The opening title track is a whispering inquiry into minor keys and the use of space. Colin Barnes' drumming is used not so much to keep a beat but to create spaces between phrases -- some of which are dissonant but not angular. But that's just the intro. What emerges is a scalar set of contingencies around three or four different shapes by Garrick. This is early vanguard Brit jazz but it swings, too. And speaking of swing, these cats got to show what they were about in the blistering bop of "Music for Shattering Supermarkets." Easily the most lyrical track here is the ballad "Sketches of Israel." It commences with a subtle shimmering theme and chord pattern that increases and decreases dynamically, with some startling punched-up crescendo work and a fine bass solo by Green. The hard bop of "Man, Have You Heard" is rooted deeply in early English folk music and the blues with a set of harmonics worthy of Brubeck's best work. And this one, too, swings like mad. Finally, "Take-Off" returns to the notion of explorations of texture, tension, and space. Just under three minutes in length, it walks the line of free jazz without ever stepping quite onto it. Rhythmically organized around three seemingly simple chord patterns, the rhythm section offers real force, which Garrick engages by breaking his figures down and alternating them while building them again. This is an extraordinary and visionary piece of work that deserves its status, with only one complaint: the playing format of the 10" LP only afforded less than half an hour's playing time. This little slab comes in at 22 and a half minutes, which leaves the listener who encounters this for the first time breathless and wanting more. It also stands up to repeated spins as an essential piece of work. Great thanks to Garrick and Trunk. ~ Thom Jurek