Tim Garland was the late Chick Corea’s orchestrator of choice, the pianist admiring Garland’s capacity for imbuing his scores with both groove and a sense of dialogue with the improvisers. ReFocus highlights this, alongside Garland’s brilliance as a tenor saxophonist. The album takes Stan Getz’s Focus (made in 1961, with string arrangements by Eddie Sauter) as its starting point, and reshapes and recolours those ideas through the prism of Garland’s imagination.
A highlight is Maternal, a response to Getz’s Her, penned when the late saxophonist lost his mother. Garland lost his own mother during ReFocus’s post production, and this critic recently lost his as he writes the review. Let’s just say the piece speaks eloquently of love and loss. The strings and rhythm section were recorded two years before Garland added his saxophone parts at home, amid a UK COVID lockdown. It’s an unusual way to make a jazz record, but the collective energy that emerges feels pressurised rather than dissipated by time and space. Garland has a generous sound, and he clearly relishes playing against the opulent strings, which are aerated by bassist Yuri Goloubev and the light, fizzing touch of drummer Asaf Sirkis.