One Track Mind: Matt Garrison, "The Madness Within" (2012)

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photo source: AllAboutJazz.com

Saxophone sage Matt Garrison (not to be confused with bassist Matthew Garrison) recently made his second album, Blood Songs, and for truly talented musicians on an upward trajectory, that sophomore effort is often where the big growth occurs. Already accomplished at tenor, baritone and soprano saxes, we’re more likely to find any progression from Garrison as a composer and bandleader, and those are things where I can spot the maturation when I hear Blood Songs‘s kickoff track “The Madness Within.”

A fundamentally sound post-bop disciple to the core, Garrison nonetheless constructed a thoroughly modern tune with “The Madness Within.” He found a compelling, lilting sequence of chords worth repeating time and again, but his arrangement makes it ever better. Bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. craft a metropolitan, deceptively shifting groove. Augmenting Douglas, Owens, Garrison and pianist Roy Assaf are guitarist Dave Kain and trombonist/producer Michael Dease, and they play important roles, too. Dease and Garrison join for a sweet sax/trombone harmony that I always dug about the Crusaders and they glide right over that groove like an Olympic ice skater. Everyone in front of Douglas and Owens turns in succinct but sharp solos; the contrast between Dease’s cool elegance and Garrison’s soulful funk that quickly follows make up the high point.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Find out why producer and trombonist Michael Dease is the heir to Curtis Fuller’s legacy on his sublime third album Grace.]

The rest of the album is fine, too, a dedication to Garrison’s parents expressed with real commitment and some thoughtfully assembled tunes more in the post-bop tradition, mostly written by Garrison himself. But “The Madness Within,” even as it stands apart from the rest of the fare, is the right way to start this album.

Blood Songs went on sale May 22, by Dease’s D Clef Records. Visit Matt Garrison’s website for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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