Andromeda by Alex Garnett's 'Bunch of Five'
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1. So Long!
2. Charlie’s World
4. Delusions Of Grandma
5. Early Autumn
6. Her Tears
8. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
Official worldwide release date - January 26, 2015
Andromeda is the second solo release from London-based saxophonist and composer Alex Garnett and is the debut recording of 'Bunch of Five' his new two tenor saxophone project. This quintet brings the classic dueling saxophone format into a contemporary context, giving it a fresh face without losing its gladiatorial edge. The musical ethos is strongly routed in groove and swing and combines the eclectic tastes and experiences of the ensemble members while leaving plenty of room for liberties and unexpected twists within the various song structures.
The two frontmen, Garnett and the NYC-based Tim Armacost, have a collective 50 years of combined playing experience on the international stage, frequently appearing at festivals and clubs across the map. Finally a situation has matured to allow these two men to join forces and expand upon their mutual admiration, and their individual sound, phrasing and approach to playing the saxophone compliment each other greatly while at the same time pushing each other to their improvisational limits.
'Bunch of Five' engages in original repertoire which at once is both grounded in the tradition yet aspires to push beyond the comfort bubble in its harmonic considerations and improvisations. Rounding out the group is a versatile rhythm section featuring UK pianist Liam Noble, American bassist Michael Janisch, and one of London’s in demand young drummers, James Maddren.
The compositions are all Garnett’s creations reflecting a broad sweep of influences from the last twenty years of his musical journey. Material is spawned from varied sources including the effect of hearing a life changing Benny Golson concert in the early 90s, a fascination with astronomy and the relationship of universal frequencies, Alex's love of (and skills in) comedy, to even the more recent impact of fatherhood and its spiritual demands.
The title track of the album, ‘Andromeda’, is dedicated to the mythological Greek Princess and far away galaxy of the same name. In a musical metaphor, the two saxophones weave their way towards each other finally converging in the eerie 7/4 time slash chord groove. Garnett cryptically informs the listener that this serves as a “reminder of the darker elements of her intentions towards us” and that In 3.75 billion years or so the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are set to fatally collide.
Although the concept of time is basically a human construct, you could say that emotionally this latest creative release of Garnett's has been twenty years in the making but spiritually speaking hasn't come a moment too soon.
"Garnett’s group includes New York saxophonist Tim Armacost in a series of virtuosic two-tenor conversations backed by Liam Noble (piano), Michael Janisch (bass) and James Maddren (drums). The leader’s dark, almost baritone-like tone and Armacost’s lighter sound establish plenty of intrigue. Serpent was a hard act to follow, but Garnett has nailed it, and without repeating himself."
★★★★ The Guardian
"These are musicians with their own strong personalities and improvising styles."
The Sunday Herald
"The tough, tight and sinuous front line was a fresh look at the twin-tenor set up."
The Financial Times
"The second album from Londoner Alex Garnett, 'Bunch of 5', brings the saxophone duel into a contemporary context, and with taste. The members of the band leave lots of room in the music for artistic freedom."
"The writing throughout (mostly Garnett’s) is very convincing... Garnett and Tim Armacost bounding around like labradors."
"An hour of dynamic recorded music with enthusiasm and skill to be heard a plenty. An excellent combination of eight pieces that will convince any listener."
"Good old Brit Jazz beats mercilessly... highly professional and sometimes gladiatorial."
Jazz Thing Magazine
"Two tenor saxophones provide everything that is possible between common dance and fiery duels. It's delicious, and mixes swing, cool, free and even bebop."
"A superb and very satisfying listening experience... Impressive is the interplay between the two tenor saxophonists, something that is not common and consistently in the history of jazz."
Music an Sich
"This a fine album from Garnett and his Bunch of 5 that unusually for a two tenor front line resists the temptation for combative duelling, and the net result is a set that reveals more with each listening."
"The combination of the leader’s tone and delivery is every bit as commanding as Rollins or Getz, whether rocking widely or producing those gorgeously lush, reaching phrases – and the diversity and inventiveness of the strong Garnett/Armacost musical partnership here is compelling throughout."
The Northern Echo
"The emphasis is on swing and groove while leaving space for some contemporary surprises. 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."
★★★★ Jazz Journal
"Andromeda features five of the brightest stars on today’s jazz scene."
"The two tenor front line has long been a classic combo format - Think Sonny Stiit/Gene Ammons; Teddy Edwards/Dexter Gordon; Gordon/Wardell Gray; Zoot Sims/Al Cohn; Lockjaw Davis/Johnny Griffin and, of course, the Jazz Couriers in the form of Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes. However, comparisons are odious or, in this case, melodious, and this quintet can stand up and be counted alongside any of their predecessors."
Bebop Spoken Here
"The echo of the tradition is very much in Alex Garnett's Bunch of 5."
HiFi & Records