Storms/Nocturnes—reedman Tim Garland, pianist Geoffrey Keezer and vibraphonist Joe Locke—originally evolved out of the septet Garland led on his Made By Walking project in 2000. This percussion-less trio format illuminates the interweaving voices’ subtleties, strengths and dexterity. However, it also challenges them to be fully realized at all times; in other words, there’s no sonic cushion, no rhythmic safety net, to fall back on. Many of these pieces feature dauntingly complex structures, progressing through multiple shifts in time and key signatures and moving from unison through counterpoint to free improvisation (both solo and collective) and back again. At the same time, the sparse ambience and unforced rhythmic impetus are appropriate and evocative. The overriding mood is meditative and questing yet playful.
On the tightly constructed “Ripertoli,” Keezer’s piano solo arises out of the three-way aural latticework, reiterating and then elaborating on the themes that have been collectively expressed; Garland’s soprano skitters with delight; and Locke’s vibes evoke an almost onomatopoetic image of quick-dancing feet. “Lake of Weathers” is appropriately rife with eddies, ripples and undulations. “Ambleside Nights,” named for a town in northern England, is imbued with British drollery: improvisational good humor within crisp, tightly structured frameworks. Garland’s breath-softened alto solo outlines contours that circle and veer with easy grace. He avoids the twin alto traps of timbral syrup and overly Bird-like harshness and forced angularity.
“Her Sanctuary” could almost serve as the trio’s manifesto. The sanctuary portrayed is both peaceful and brightened by whimsy: not a hermitage, but a private wonderland of the imagination.