Lighthouse Trio

The Lighthouse Project

Last night we enjoyed a superb evening of high-energy jazz at the Rodewald Suite, listening to Tim Garland and the Lighthouse Project. The band features Gwilym Simcock on piano and Asaf Sirkis on a custom built percussion set consisting of frame drums, bass udu and Hang drum, with Tim Garland on tenor and soprano sax plus bass clarinet.

The set was drawn mainly from their latest album, Libra, with numbers such as ‘Break in the Weather’, ‘Blue in Green’ and ‘Bajo del Sol’.  The trio play energetically and with an infectious enthusiasm – clearly taking pleasure in the music and in each other’s company, mixing rhythms from the Middle East, Spain and South America with lyrical passages. Seated just six feet from Gwilym Simcock’s left elbow, we were drawn into a compelling and engrossing evening of jazz.

St. Mary's lighthouse, Whitley Bay

St. Mary’s lighthouse, Whitley Bay

Tim explained how the trio got their name: he was recording some solo bass clarinet improvisations in an abandoned lighthouse near Whitley Bay that became the inspiration for his album, If The Sea Replied, the first to feature the core trio of himself, Simcock and Sirkis.

A distinctive element of their sound is the highly unusual percussion kit played by Sirkis. It features a Hang drum, a new instrument invented in this decade. It looks, as Tim Garland pointed out, rather like the aliens in the old Smash instant mash adverts. It produces a sound that’s a cross between a gamelan and steel drum. Sirkis also utilizes the udu to supply the trio with bass when Simcock’s piano isn’t doing so.

This was an evening of great jazz: Gwilym Simcock is the rising star at the moment and Tim Garland, in Ian Carr’s words, is ‘astonishingly brilliant, a world class virtuoso’.

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