Serpent by Alex Garnett
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Serpent: Promotional Video
Release Date: Sept 5th 2011: Worldwide Stores & Digital
Alex Garnett, often referred to as 'Son' or 'Sonny' has been one of the leading saxophonists in the UK and Mainland Europe for over 2 decades, being instantly recognized by his dark, husky sound. He's one of those musicians that everyone knows about and has deep respect for, who can do anything from performing with the Rolling Stones to ensembles that specialize in free improvisation. A hugely versatile musician and first call sideman, he has enjoyed success as both a professional creative jazz artist, composer and arranger, and an in demand session, studio and commercial saxophonist, having racked up countless album sideman and recording credits along the way. Easily performing over 200 events a year with many of Europe's leading bands and creative jazz ensembles, he is also a regular sideman choice for many of the top visiting American jazz artists when touring in Europe, and has himself performed in over 30 countries worldwide appearing at such prestigious venues as the Blue Note, Birdland, as well as the Perugia, North Sea, Vittoria, Montreax, and Oslo Jazz Festivals to name but a few, with varied and diverse artists across the spectrum such as Sir John Dankworth, Wynton Marsalis, Pete King, Humphrey Littleton, Scott Hamilton, Van Morrison, as well as with his contemporaries Gareth Lockrane, Seamus Blake, Phil Robson, and Joel Frahm.
Although Garnett has accumulated one of the most impressive biographies of any saxophonist in Europe of his generation, he had yet to release his own solo album until Sept 5th 2011. Recorded in NYC at the famed Systems Two Studios, Serpent features one of the world's most sought after jazz drummers, Willie Jones III, the swinging accompaniment of Anthony Wonsey on piano, and bassist extraordinaire Michael Janisch, while showcasing eight contemporary original compositions from the leader himself, with stellar performances by all on board. What became a yearly routine pilgrimage to the Big Apple ended up a chance to record an album, and Serpent is what came out as a result.
It's very rare that an artist of Garnett's ability waits until his 40th year to release his own solo record, and this album proved to be one of the most highly anticipated debuts in years in the UK, showcasing Garnett's saxophone playing, composing and arranging skills as a leader, further solidifying why he is in constant demand across the genres as one of the Europe's premier and respected saxophonists.
Best Albums of 2011 Critics List, Jazzwise Magazine
"Music to make you realize why you love this music."
"Garnett has all the individuality, skill and stamina every star soloist needs, and his debut album as leader is an impressive affair. Alex contributes eight excellent themes including the title track. This is a serpent with plenty of bite."
**** 4 Stars, CD Pick of the Week for July 29th, 2011
The Evening Standard
"[Serpent] reveals a compositional sharpness that makes this new solo career look like a long-term one... full of exhilarating melodic turns... it's an unexpected gem."
**** 4 Stars, The Guardian
"Impeccable...[Serpent] delivers the impression of a club gig even though it's a studio session."
Clarinet and Saxophone Journal
"Alex Garnett has a classic saxophonists sound, and on 'Serpent' he fronts an impeccable band."
Cuadernas de Jazz (Spain)
"[Garnett] confidently moulds a personal voice out of the best of the contemporary mainstream on his first, somewhat belated album as a leader... with a deep-tone, soulful spontaneity and an impressive sense of form."
**** 4 Stars, The Financial Times
**** 4 Stars, CD of the Month for Sept. '11
UK Jazz Radio
"Garnett's trip to NYC in 2009 paid off...what we hear on this disc is something jazz is supposed to offer but seldom does these days."
"These musicians don't chase fashion. They are what they are, and do what they do as well as anyone. It [Serpent] has been worth the wait."
"A thoroughly enjoyable and refreshingly unpretentious album, unfussily recorded in what sound like first takes, so that the overall effect is of a hot live performance."
"[Serpent] impresses on numerous levels, including the quality of Garnett’s writing, the playing skills of the individual muscians and the way in which they lock in together as a unit...a belated but emphatic debut for Garnett as bandleader, who reveals himself to be wild, hip and cool in turn."
All About Jazz
"Garnett confirms jazz as one of the most renewable of energies with a very clever, grooving reworking of 'When The Saints Go Marching In' (here renamed Atonement), revealed his and his band’s mastery of Latin American and bebop rhythms and tempos, and encouraged a collective free improvisation that resolved into consummate jazz ballad playing."
"[Serpent] is a self-composed album of agile, fresh-sounding contemporary bop."
"What a great disc! What a great band!...Close your eyes and it could be a '50's blowing session by Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson or Dex, 'cept Garnett has also absorbed later saxophone gurus such as Joe Lovano and George Garzone and the end result is an intricate weave of those influences culminating in a sound that is totally today."
Bebop Spoken Here Blog Site (UK)
"Garnett is a first call sideman to the stars... [Serpent] is an engaging introduction to a notable talent who's ducked donning the leader's hat for too long."
"Full of life and spontaneity... Garnett has a great muscular style and a rich, gritty tone."
The Jazz Breakfast