When I espied the lead cut, How Can I be Sure?, I thought "Whoa? Is that the Young Rascals' classic, a song that almost no one has touched?", and, sure enough, it was. Man o man, how cool to hear that soul hit given the jazz treatment from saxophonist Matt Garrison, a cat who's sat in with Adam Nussbaum, Andy Laverne, Ray Vega, and others. It got my afternoon off to a nice shade of sentimental. Then came Steppin' Up (and Steppin' Around), with its spunky multi-horn matrix, and the scene was set. Patchwork is neither apocalyptic nor a college course in the prime era nor even the standard chart for fusion, though it certainly abounds with standard elements and fusiony elements; instead, it's an upbeat dance of smiles and improv often be-boppin' as Garrison swings into action.
That three-piece horn section (saxes, trombone, trumpet) is vibrant 'n swingin' all through the 8-song menu anyway, obviously diggin' the hell out of what they're doing. The choice of Melissa Morgan was a good one, too, her delicate voice first quite nicely approximating Felix Cavaliere's (The Young Rascals) and then getting canary sweet in Don McLean's Vincent. Go back, though, and listen as well when Yasushi Nakamura gets all crazy fingered on the bass during Steppin' Up and then fast forward to When Eyes Meet as Garrison raves up. Don't change the channels, 'cause the next cut, Lee Morgan's Ceora, ushers in a novo-classicalist clarinets/oboe/flute section that's delectable, not Mahler dark and dirgey but Saint Saens or Prokofiev light and airy, delightful.
Garrison scribed lyrics for that cut, and Morgan turns them notational, as much music as text, she faery-dancing atop the band, and I think the difference in Garrison's work stems from the home life he experienced, his mother a master quilter, his pere a draftsman mathematician, the home front filled with doo wop, 60s rock, and 80s contempo rather than Miles and The Halloweds. Listen closely and you'll hear Joe Jackson and other influences (pianist Nial Djuliarso making this very apparent during his solo and comping in Fall for Me). And, hey, who's this 'Gizmordio Twickletwackle' guesting on alto flute? A cousin to Snuffleupaguss, Yodar Stretch, or Jar Jar Binks? Pretty cool faux ID, but, yo, don't Garrison and crew know jazz is s'posed to be deadly serious? Apparently not, and that makes all the difference.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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