The Long History of Jazz in Narberth
Written by Declan Connolly (SpanJazz programmer)
My name is Declan Connolly and I am a member of the bus pass club and still won’t let it go. When I say ‘it’ I really mean the mad urge to bring great musicians to play in our county, our Town and the community owned venue – The Queens Hall. Way back in time, I managed the QH and with a bunch of fabulous people, we had the vision of it as the arts and culture hub of the community. Lynne Crompton has kept a great contemporary arts gallery there. Hundreds of concerts and gigs have moved thousands of people every year since it was rebuilt in 1993, and it should have been renamed as Narberth Arts Centre long ago.
These days I am most often seen introducing the bands at Spanjazz nights in the Plas Hyfryd Hotel. I recently realised that the Jazz stream of the Span Arts programme had been going for 30 years! I just love keeping the jazz flag flying here and was very proud last year to present a very good monthly programme with a premier concert in the QH with The Ronnie Scott All Stars featuring Alex Garnett (tenor sax) and James Pearson (piano). 12 months on and we are now able to present another all star group in the form of the Tim Garland Electric Quartet on Thursday 23rd March. As well as Tim on saxes, the band includes Jason Rebello on piano, the multi-talented percussionist Asaf Sirkis on drums and unique young guitarist Ant Law. All of the musicians in the band have their own bands and careers, look ‘em up if you want to know more.
Let me tell you now about why composer and saxophonist Tim Garland is an internationally famous jazz man, and we are so proud to bring him and his group to Narberth. Tim Garland (born 19 October 1966) first entered the jazz scene playing alongside Ronnie Scott in a “two tenor” quintet, before quickly establishing himself as a leader, drawing on influences from around the world including classical and flamenco. He is also known for his innovative bass clarinet playing and for his prolific output as composer, blurring the boundaries between modern jazz and classical concert music. As a performer, he has worked widely both in Britain and overseas, with particular highlights being a continuing collaboration with Chick Corea and his four-year association with drummer Bill Bruford.
As composer, he has fulfilled commissions from the London Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra and Westminster Abbey Choir, as well as several small and large jazz-based ensembles. In 2013, he premiered his suite Songs to The North Sky for jazz trio and orchestra, written in 2012 for the trio Lighthouse with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and subsequently performed by them and also by the London Sinfonia.
As a band-leader, he first achieved recognition with the jazz/folk crossover group Lammas (which included Don Paterson and Christine Tobin), going on with a number of groups under his own name, the Dean Street Underground Orchestra, Storms/Nocturnes, Acoustic Triangle and his award winning Lighthouse Project.
He was voted “Musician of the Year” by the 2006 Cross-Parliamentary Jazz Society. In 2016 He came first in the Jazzwise Readers Poll CD of The Year for his album ONE on Edition Records. In 2009, Garland won a Grammy for his part in creating “The New Crystal Silence” which celebrated Chick Corea and Gary Burton’s long established partnership. He orchestrated five of Chick’s pieces for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
In 2013, he was announced as part of Chick Corea’s band ‘The Vigil’, debuting in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club before embarking on a world tour.
Here is what pianist Chick Corea says about Tim “I met Tim Garland through his original Enter The Fire – and I wanted some of that fire in my band – thus our long musical friendship began. This Return To The Fire shows Tim, his beautiful compositions and the band’s prowess completely. Thanks to Tim and his compadres for keeping the Music Fires burning brightly.’
I hope you will want to come and experience this special man’s great music at the Queens Hall on Thursday 23rd March when there will be a support group of students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I will continue to offer the best possible jazz related music every month at Spanjazz at the Plas Hyfryd.