The Lighthouse Trio, formed by Tim Garland on bass clarinet and sax, with Gwilym Simcock on piano and Asaf Sirkis on percussion, was educational as well as multi-sensual.
Their current album, Lighthouse, was inspired by St. Mary’s Lighthouse situated in North-East England. Garland tells a delicate story of how the lighthouse on the doorstep of his home had wonderful acoustics. Just after captivating the audience with a story of how he played inside the lighthouse, to see what it could produce in terms of expansive sound, he tells us the experience is better expressed if he showed us. He would play his sax on the piano.
He calmly walks over to the piano, pushes his head and his sax into the heart of the Steinway, and plays punctuated notes of sound and space. What came after can only be described as some of the most visceral sounds one can experience. Simcock, head bowed as if in front of some Steinway deity, sat there as mesmerized as we all were. The strings of the piano created ethereal echoes of soft texture at each note played by Garland, all with images of him playing in his lighthouse vivid in our minds.
On piano, the prodigiously talented Simcock and co-composer of the album, was always happy to educate the audience with short interjections of how certain notes can be played in certain ways, such as the octaves of a Hang-drum, and then playing them The Lighthouse Trio way. Light hearted humour, reflective of crowd responses and polished pin point playing allowed Simcock to drive through a masterclass performance. His sophisticated harmonics and fearsome technique on piano was a delight. Reserved, no, but there were times when I thought it could’ve have gone further.
The unconventional percussion kit of Sirkis was a delight to see and hear. The traditional snare, bass drums and toms were replaced with frame drums, a UFO like Hang-drum with its tone fields and a bass Udu which shook the innards of the hall we were in. Sirkis was light and fiery, a master of everything that he touched and he definitely left an indelible impression on the audience.
To say this trio has virtuosity would be selling it short. The British trio of Garland, Simcock and Sirkis have a unity which is sublime, dynamic and natural. All three have justifiably become successful in their own right and each one of them has so much to offer musically. Their democratic respect for each other did not allow for any individual to take centre stage for too long. Sometimes, one night is not enough.
Long live ‘King Barolo’.
Here’s a little preview of Asaf on the Hang drum with Gwilym on piano and Tim on sax.
Full Line Up
- Tim Garland – Clarinet/Saxophone
- Gwilym Simcock – Piano
- Asaf Sirkis – Percussion
Their album ‘Lighthouse’ is available on iTunes.