May 20, 2024

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George Garzone has the credentials for a big following … Video

23.09. – Happy Birthday !!! Since he looks like 1980s-vintage George C Scott, exudes laid-back Italian‑American charm and sounds like at least three saxophone players rolled into one, the musician and educator George Garzone has the credentials for a big following.

Yet he is nowhere near as well known as many of the younger saxophonists – including Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis and Mark Turner – who have been his pupils over the years, since he began teaching jazz at Berklee College, in Boston, in the 1970s. The 62-year-old maestro’s single London appearance was a hot date, therefore, even if he was obliged to wing it on an unrehearsed first meeting with World Service Project’s skilful young bassist, Conor Chaplin, and drummer, Dave Hamblett.

Garzone, playing tenor sax, was also partnered by altoist Carlo Conti, whose probing, angular interrogations of the harmonies contrasted with the older man’s weightier sound and attack. Garzone was astonishing from the off, not least because he sounded both impetuous and flawlessly secure; he seemed to have many more choices, regardless of tempo, than most song-based improvisers do. He also presented several saxophone guises: initially light and Lee Konitz-like in the opening I Remember You, then gutturally rumbling in an atonal space – somewhere between John Coltrane and Evan Parker – and Sonny Rollins-like in his terse reminders of the tune. In a mixed-tempo Latin swing, Garzone amiably pushed the initially reserved Chaplin and Hamblett with raw, barging phrases that drove up their intensity and confidence. A beautiful two-sax arrangement of Coltrane’s Naima inspired a bagpipe-like quiver from Conti, and Garzone hit the low accents in the following fast blues with such resounding thumps, it was hard to tell his contributions from those of the now-animated Hamblett. A fuller UK residency for this master of post-bop saxophone is long overdue.

Saxophonist George Garzone is a member of The Fringe, a jazz trio founded in 1972 that includes bassist John Lockwood and drummer Bob Gullotti, that performs regularly in the Boston area and has toured Portugal. The group has released three albums. A veteran jazzman, Garzone has appeared on over 20 recordings. He began on the tenor when he was six, played in a family band and attended music school in Boston. In addition Garzone has guested in many situations, touring Europe with Jamaaladeen Tacuma and performing with Danilo Perez, Joe Lovano, Jack DeJohnette, Rachel Z and John Patitucci among others.

Garzone is well-known as a sought-after jazz educator, currently teaching at the Berklee College of Music. He has also previously taught at New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, New York University, Manhattan School of Music, Northeastern University and the New School University. He has pioneered the triadic chromatic approach and students of his have included Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, Teadross Avery, Luciana Souza, Mark Turner, Donny McCaslin, Doug Yates and Danilo Perez, to name a few.

In 1995 he recorded a fine tribute to Stan Getz on NYC called Alone; Four’s and Two’s followed a year later with compatriot Joe Lovano which earned him four stars in Downbeat magazine, and in 1999 Garzone returned with Moodiology. Fringe in New York was released in summer 2000. He is a member of the Grammy-winning Joe Lovano Nonet, and performed and recorded with this group at the Village Vanguard in September 2002. George is endorsed by Rico Reeds, JodyJazz mouthpieces and R. S. Berkeley musical instruments.

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