Reviews of Acoustic Triangle
23/09/2005 THE HEXHAM COURANT
HARMONY WITHIN THREE POINTS OF THE TRIANGLE
ACOUSTIC TRIANGLE play inspiring music in inspiring buildings, not least in cathedrals, churches and chapels across the UK. Moreover, they play jazz, and they seek to involve the young in their educational work as well as to enliven arts in public places.
What we heard in Hexham Abbey was outstanding instrumental virtuosity, exuberance and joy in playing. This trio commanded our attention with their spirited and polished interchanges in variation form.
Jazz? A certain kind of purist might dissent from an approach that could be found strongly eclectic and classical. Others might dismiss some of the mannerisms and clichés of jazz in a programme of contemporary improvisation. What we heard however was firmly based in jazz. Let others debate the pigeon holes.
The programme was chosen from originals by Bill Evans, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Maurice Ravel and two of the performers. The arrangements and improvisations were appealing to the listener. From Acoustic Triangle we got a musical language founded in tonal harmony, exploratory and complex, but communicative, rich in flights of fancy and exciting rhythm.
Two of the players, Tim Garland (saxophones and bass clarinet) and Gwilym Simcock (piano and French horn) were also well represented as composers and arrangers. Malcolm Creese (double bass) was the co-ordinator and presenter, giving us modestly an outstanding display of expert bass playing, plucked and bowed.
Acoustic - yes, not a microphone, amplifier or loudspeaker in sight. What a relief! All was matched to the acoustic of the transept, and perfectly heard.
26/08/2005 The Romsey Advertiser
Jazzing up the Abbey
Romsey Festival in conjunction with Music in Romsey achieved a notable coup when Acoustic Triangle, three highly gifted and internationally acclaimed jazz musicians, included Romsey Abbey as part of their 2005 Tour of Sacred Places.
Sacred buildings ranging from small chapels to noble Cathedrals possess naturally 'live' acoustics and Romsey Abbey provided the ideal venue for Acoustic Triangle's undoubted talents. Malcolm Creese, double bass, Tim Garland, saxophones and bass clarinet and Gwilym Simcock, grand piano and French horn gave the concert. Their philosophy is all about performing without amplification, thereby relying on the natural acoustic of the building. They enabled the audience to appreciate not only the splendour of the building itself but also the pure sonorous tones and unhampered blending of the instruments.
The programme reflected the performers' classical backgrounds and, applying their high levels of musicianship to the jazz genre, including a generous amount of individual and collectively spontaneous improvisation, adding a further dimension to the overall performance.
The opening item, variations on the famous Miserere by the late 16th Century Italian composer Gregorio Allegri, clearly showed the fusion of classical and jazz styles. This was dramatically portrayed when, after a series of subdued opening themes, Tim Garland, playing the saxophone, slowly walked up the South Aisle from the West end of the Abbey to join his two fellow performers at the head of the Nave as he music ebbed and flowed eventually reaching a stunning conclusion. Thereafter the large and appreciative audience were treated to a series of items portraying further discernible elements of classical, jazz and folk music styles.
There were notable compositions by both Tim Garland, including Rosa Ballerina and Winding Wind, and Gwilym Simcock's, Fundero and Nutshell, all specially composed for the 2005 tour. The Group's leader and double bassist Malcolm Creese, a Romsey resident, provided informative introductions for each item. The concert was recorded as part of a forthcoming CD following the trio's recent recording successes. The evening proved to be a most rewarding experience and any future visit would be thoroughly recommended.
01/08/2005 Peter Bacon THE BIRMINGHAM POST
Acoustic Triangle, Abbotsholme School Chapel
Although it is not always justified, the perception of contemporary classical music remains that it is designed more for the brain than the ears, more for the concept than the music.
It's probably not conscious on their part, but have you noticed how jazz musicians are moving to fill the void?
Double bass player Malcolm Creese, saxophonist Tim Garland and pianist Gwilym Simcock are happy squatters in that vacant space where easily accessible composition and clearly recognisable instrumental virtuosity still mean something. And audiences love it.
This concert was in a venue more accustomed to hosting chamber music, and this group, with its vital playing and easy manner, judged the mood perfectly.
Original pieces from Simcock and Garland opened the evening, the pianist's Ritual refusing to bow to jazz conventions, having the theme played by bowed bass and bass clarinet in unison, and the saxophone's Bourdion an equally composed and thoroughly structured piece until its finale which had Simcock and Garland 'trading fours' in true jazz tradition.
A highlight was the band's version of Kenny Wheeler's Sly Eyes, in which Garland began by playing long tenor saxophone notes under the lid of the grand piano and letting the resonated strings sing back to him. He the turned lounge lizard to accentuate the full louche nature of the tango.
The trio turned its attentions to Ravel in the second half with Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, before driving hard on the home stretch with more Wheeler, Garland and Simcock.
Simcock's sureness of touch and ability to build improvisations as complex in their structure as they are lithe in their propulsion; Garland's extraordinary command of his instruments; Creese's holding centre for the widening gyre - all combined to make this an inspiring performance in a charming setting.
01/08/2005 Keith Shadwick JAZZWISE
Acoustic Triangle - St. James's Piccadilly
There is a continual backdrop of concern at the ever diminishing circuit of venues that are prepared to mount honest to goodness live improvised music, so Acoustic Triangle's step into some of the more inspiring religious buildings in Britain just for that purpose has to be a good one. Their appearance St. James's, Piccadilly in June was part of the 2005 Tour of Sacred Places that will continue for most of the rest of the year, on and off.
Acoustic Triangle (Malcolm Creese, Tim Garland and Gwilym Simcock) recently put out a well received (and well recorded) CD that stated their aesthetic and acoustic case quite convincingly so it was no surprise to hear this trio exploit the sonorities available to them in the fine space that is St. James's in London's Piccadilly.
Creese, in his programme notes to the tour brochure, comments that churches have long been community centres for a wide range of activities, and his trio's purpose in playing music in churches was to help bring these wonderful spaces back into community use outside of the formal religious usage most people nowadays exclusively associate them with. Must say I agree with that. Nothing wrong with a pew, as long as what's going on up front has a point and some greater meaning. The Triangle certainly has that.
In a programme that drew on compositions form Garland and Simcock from the band but also from Kenny Wheeler, Stan Tracey, Ralph Towner and Cole Porter, as well as arrangement of a couple of classical pieces from Allegri (yes, the Miserere) and Ravel (no, not the Bolero, or even the Pavane), it showed that a drummerless acoustic group could vary and shade its textures in beguiling ways and keep an audience hooked. It also helped that Garland is an expert on a number of wind instruments, including bass clarinet (a delicious sound in St. James's), thereby keeping the aural mix a tasty one.
So - coming soon to a church near you. Check 'em out.
20/07/2005 James Griffiths, THE GUARDIAN
- 20th July 2005
Acoustic Triangle - St. Mary's, Chester
The latest tour by the chamber-jazz trio Acoustic Triangle finds them playing sacred buildings up and down the country. Given that abbeys, cathedrals and churches tend to boast wonderful acoustics this seems a natural move for a band famous for its non-amplified performances. But there is another motive; according to bassist and project instigator Malcolm Creese, the tour is an attempt to redefine sacred spaces as secular hubs of culture and community, as well an opportunity to create some long-term new venues in an increasingly ailing live circuit. High minded ideals indeed, and fortunately Acoustic Triangle have some high-minded, frequently breath-taking music to go with them.
The concert began with Creese standing alone, stained glass glowing gently behind him. As he began bowing an elegant lament, a disembodied French horn and saxophone floated in from somewhere else inside the church, eventually becoming visible in the hands of Gwilym Simcock and Tim Garland, who then joined Creese on stage. Following this highly effective overture, Simcock switched to piano and the trio launched into an ambitious set which found them perfectly weaving together contemporary British jazz with elements of European concert music.
The set contained ambitious and attractive pieces by Simcock and Garland (the latter contributed the second movement from his fiendishly difficult piano concerto), along with tunes by Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and Stan Tracey. There was also a richly layered reading of Ravel's Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé, in which the division between composed sections and instrumental flights of fantasy became artfully blurred.
Simcock proved himself a jaw-droppingly exciting pianist, particularly on the more rhythmic, self-penned tunes such as Rhumba. Garland's propensity for ecstatic million note flurries was tempered by his evident interest in atmospherics; at one point he blew a ghostly solo into the opened piano lid while Simcock held down the sustain pedal. An eclectic, adventurous performance by three undisputed masters of the game.
01/07/2005 Richard Woolrych , Mercury Magazine
Classical-jazz fusion makes for an eclectic musical evening in beautiful surroundings.
Jazz trio Acoustic Triangle played on Friday night to a full house at St Mary's - the smallest venue on their 2005 Tour of Sacred Places. They play in Lincoln Cathedral on August 12th and Ely on September 22nd.
The delighted audience was treated to a wonderfully varied programme of compositions by the three musicians and other composers ranging from Ravel to Kenny Wheeler, whose composition Sly Eyes included a notable solo where Tim Garland's tenor sax literally played the grand piano with its strings resonating in response to Tim's developing solo.
On other pieces, the piano was superbly played by 24-year-old Gwilym Simcock, whose new composition Fundero set feet tapping to its shifting patterns of swirling rhythm and evocative sensuousness, echoed by the bass clarinet of Tim Garland.
Gwilym opened on French horn, with Malcolm Creese on double bass treating us to some wonderfully subtle bowing on variations on a theme by Gregorio Allegri, before Gwilym took up the theme on piano, thus demonstrating how improvised jazz and the classical tradition can live together. On a medieval French dance, Malcolm Creese's bass was augmented by Gwilym by the use of the piano frame and strings for percussion, coupled with Tim Garland's saxophone to bring funky rhythms to a folk tune. It is hard to know how to categorise contemporary music of this kind as all three musicians have backgrounds in classical music as well as their love for jazz.
Joyce Sandell and the music society at St Mary's are to be congratulated on making it possible for us to hear such inspired playing and the welcome change of hearing unamplified jazz in such a beautiful setting. May this be the first of many other jazz events in the beautiful and historic building.
18/06/2004 Nick Jones LEICESTER MERCURY
Review of Concert at Leicester International Music Festival
Venue: New Walk Museum - 17/06/04 - Reviewed by
PERFECT MARRIAGE OF ACOUSTIC JAZZ AND CLASSICAL
Once upon a time, all music was like this. With no drummer and no amplification, Malcolm Creese's trio Acoustic Triangle have to listen hard and pay special attention to volume and balance.
The results are just extraordinary. With unamplified double bass and the museum's excellent piano, the sound is intimate and lovely.
Creese, saxophonist Tim Garland and the remarkable young pianist Gwilym Simcock have the sort of technique that makes the playing of music seem effortless, and a collective concentration that borders on telepathy.
The marriage of acoustic jazz and European classical music hasn't always been a happy one, but this is no Jacques Loussier pastiche; this band take all their music seriously, and create a blend that is probably unique in Britain.
The closest match would be with the haunting chamber jazz of the German ECM label, and appropriately the set included tunes by three ECM musicians: pianist John Taylor, guitarist Ralph Towner and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.
Having arrived at a sound that works, Acoustic Triangle are perhaps a little too inclined to stick with it. One might look for a greater variation in tone, something to provide a foil to all that richness.
But there is still something wonderful at hearing three players apparently spinning music out of nowhere.
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