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English pianist, organist, and composer Michael Garrick studied literature at London University before leading a trio and quartet in the late '50s. He mixed music and literature in the early '60s, doing more than 250 concerts that blended poetry and jazz. His earliest recording from 1959 was Blues for the Lonely EP, for Columbia. It also featured Joe Harriott, Shake Keane, and poet Jeremy Robson; he also released Kronos with a different group. Garrick was actively composing and doing stage presentations of large and small works and didn't record again until 1963, when A Case of Jazz appeared, which was quickly followed by Poetry and Jazz in Concert. In 1964 he independently pressed and released Moonscapes, a 10" LP with drummer Colin Barnes and bassist David Green. It was pressed in an edition of 99 copies, which quickly sold out; it remained in obscurity until Jonny Trunk and his Trunk Records imprint remastered and re-released it in 2007.
Garrick formed a sextet in 1965 and recorded the album Promises for Argo/Vocalion that year with Harriott on alto sax, Ian Carr on trumpet, Tony Coe on tenor, and Coleridge Goode on bass. Before Night/Day and the treasured Black Marigolds both appeared in 1966; the latter featured Coe and Harriott. Garrick experimented with harpsichord in the mid-'60s, and explored jazz settings for liturgical works, the first of which was the seminal Jazz Praises at St. Paul's issued in 1968. He made several albums with his various groups into the early '70s, heading trios, quartets, quintets, and septets. Among the most important recordings from this period are The Heart Is a Lotus (featuring vocalist Norma Winstone) in 1970, Cold Mountains in 1972, and Troppo in 1973, all for Argo/Vocalion. Garrick also played with and composed for the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet and Neil Ardley's New Jazz Orchestra.
Garrick began teaching in earnest in the 1970s and his recordings became more infrequent. He had formed the Traveling Jazz Faculty in 1965 for the purpose of entertaining and teaching children the fundamentals of music in the classroom. In the '70s he also held teaching posts at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall, and a professorial post at the Trinity College of Music. In 1975 he instigated a jazz course for the Wavendon All Music Plan at composer John Dankworth's request. (Education and teaching became and remain as big a part of his career as composing and recording.) Garrick didn't record again until 1978 when he issued You've Changed with Don Weller, Chris Lawrence, and Alan Jackson. He stopped recording after this date until the 1990s, though he gigged regularly with Chris Hunter and David Green from 1984 on. He formed a sextet in 1983 and a big band in 1985, both of which remain active, and his "New Quartet" made its recording debut in 2001.
Garrick finally resumed his recording career in 1993 with a trio date entitled A Lady in Waiting with Jackson and Green. In 1994 the pianist also became an orchestral director and arranger. Meteors Close at Hand appeared in 1994 on his Jazz Academy imprint. It was followed by Parting Is Such; another trio recording featured guest appearances by Rendell and violinist Chris Garrick. In 1996 he issued For Love of Duke...and Ronnie on Jazz Academy, which featured his trio, an orchestra, and his first recorded collaboration with vocalist Jacqui Dankworth. He finished the century with Down on Your Knees, recorded by his big band with vocalist Anita Wardell.
As busy as Garrick had been in the 20th century, it was but a precursor to the 21st. In 1999 he helped to establish standards for the Associated Board's jazz examinations. His Jazz Academy label kicked off the new millennium with Joe Harriott: Genius, which featured nine rare Harriott recordings with an additional two from the period with himself, Keane, Johnny Taylor, and Alan Green. In 2001 his New Quartet issued its first recording, with Jackson, Paul Moylan, and Martin Hathaway. He shifted focus a bit in 2002 with the release of the folk-influenced Green and Pleasant Land, with Chris Garrick, Dominic Ashworth, and Moylan, known as Garricks' Strings Quartet. The large-scale orchestra recording Peter Pan: Jazzdance Suite (featuring vocalist Anita Wardell) appeared in 2003. Garrick's big-band tribute entitled Big Band Harriott was issued in 2004, and followed quickly by 2005's Children of Time, performed by yet another large group called the Michael Garrick Jazz Britannia Orchestra with Norma Winstone. The quartet reunited for Inspirations for John Coltrane's 80th birthday in 2006.
Norma Winstone — who has a busy recording, teaching, and touring schedule of her own — also fronted the Michael Garrick Jazz Orchestra for Yet Another Spring — Births, Marriages & Death in 2007 and for the Ellington tribute suite Lady of the Aurian Wood: For Duke in 2009. Also appearing in 2009 was Garrick's Remembered Time: Songs by and for Bill Evans, performed by his orchestra with vocalist Nette Robinson, who also fronted the group for 2010's Tone Poems. While his recording and performing career remained in full swing — in his seventh decade as a professional musician — the energetic Garrick continued to teach, as he organized two weeks of workshops each year during the 2000s at his own jazz academy based at the Beechwood Campus in Tunbridge Wells. In 2011 the indefatigable Trunk Records issued Rising Stars: A Case of Jazz Plus Rare Tracks, assembled from recordings done by Michael Garrick and Shake Keane from the late '50s and early '60s. Active and inspired to the end despite heart problems, Michael Garrick died on November 11, 2011 at the age of 78. ~ Thom Jurek & Ron Wynn, Rovi
30 May 1933 in Enfield, England
'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s