Dates had been booked, with Norma Winstone and Kit Downes due to come over to my studio mid November. Then a second lockdown was announced, and Norma was soon to reply to my panic message “Lets DO IT!”.
So within twenty-four hours they were here, initiating the first of what I hope will turn out to be a series of “Encounters At Oak Gable Studio”.
Plans to hone a set with a song of mine and some other new material were put to one side, as the necessity of creating something on the spot took over.
Keeping the format to trios, distancing is no problem. We had no monitors, no headphones, and agreed there’d be no overdubs. This would be a concert, it’s just that the audience were yet to arrive.
What resulted was more moving than I could have imagined; melodies that I have known for thirty years or more, were now being sung a few steps away directly to me or so it felt, with that quiet authority that Norma possesses.
It felt like doing “In Tune” that radio 3 live music slot where you and Sean Rafferty are stuck in a basement, no audience in sight, yet mysteriously the world is dialling in.
Kit is a fantastic accompanist and followed Norma’s delicate phrasing as if they’d just been on tour together. It is also worth mentioning the loving debt we owe John Taylor, whose influence runs so deep in many of us, whether we be pianists or composers.
After feeling so starved of ensemble playing, this quickly assembled date was a deep joy, and perhaps had an added sense of renewed love for the ability to truly create together. Our choice of well loved tunes only seemed to add to this emotional gravity in the studio that afternoon.
Another swiftly arranged pre-lockdown session happened the next day when Kit returned, this time with Rob Luft. His stereo soundscapes helped create a particularly nocturnal set suitable for the Christmas holiday performance slot that it’s being planned for.
Even more evident in this session, was the fact that this is an Encounter, rather than a Band: People with similar sensibilities, putting themselves on the line and relishing the freshness of committing something to record, in some cases never having played it before.
Several more sessions are planned. All being well there will be “Spring Encounters” and the other seasons will follow. My heartfelt hope is that they all will embody the same passion, interconnectedness and, well, love, that these first two have.
The ability to finesse the audio, and of course to have the whole thing beautifully filmed, means these online concerts are not live, but the plan is to follow the 45 min concert with a live Q&A , where you can shoot over your questions to those you’ve just seen and heard bare their souls, and they can talk right back to you from their boudoirs via Zoom!
My son Joe Garland is a big part of the tech success of this, having already created the new-look www.timgarland.com site. Check it out.
Please take a look as there are quite a few videos, audio clips of what I get up to at Oak Gable Studio, Masterchord, and Abbey Road, and importantly, details of performance dates and ticket info.
Take a look at this short video
Winter Encounter no.1
Tim is joined by Norma Winstone and Kit Downes