Alex Garnett - tenor saxophone
Anthoney Wonsey - piano
Willie Jones III - drums
Michael Janisch - double bass
Recorded at Systems Two, NYC
Engineered by Mike Marciano
Mixed by Tyler McDiarmid
Mastered by Mark Wilder of Sony Music
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released September 5, 2011
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Alex Garnett has been one of the leading saxophonists in the UK and Mainland Europe for over two decades, with an instantly recognizable sound and facility on his instrument that has gained him widespread appeal with fans as well as respect from fellow musicians. A versatile player and first call sideman, he has enjoyed success as both a professional jazz artist, composer and arranger, and an in demand session, studio and commercial saxophonist, having racked up countless recording credits along the way.
A ubiquitous performer with many of the UK's leading bands, he is also a regular sideman of choice for many of the top visiting American artists when touring in Europe, and has himself performed worldwide appearing at such venues as The Blue Note, Birdland, as well as the Perugia, North Sea, Vittoria, Montreax, and Oslo Jazz Festivals to name but a few, with artists such as Sir John Dankworth, Wynton Marsalis, Pete King, Humphrey Littleton, The Rolling Stones, Scott Hamilton, Van Morrison, as well as with his contemporaries Gareth Lockrane, Seamus Blake, Phil Robson, Michael Janisch and Joel Frahm.
It's very rare that an artist as renown and prolific as Garnett (he's also regarded as an inventive composer and arranger) waits until his 40th year to release his own solo record, but even that wasn't planned. What was a routine pilgrimage to NYC ended up his debut album Serpent, the result of a lucky chance to grab some last minute studio space with some of his musician friends who happened to be in the city at the same time. Recorded at Systems Two Studios, the album features drummer Willie Jones III, Anthony Wonsey on piano and double bassist Michael Janisch and showcases eight spirited original compositions full of melodic and harmonic twists from the leader. With the arrival of Serpent Garnett establishes a solo career as a saxophonist and composer of standout originality.
Best Albums of 2011 Critics List, Jazzwise Magazine
★★★★ UK Jazz Radio (CD of the month)
"Music to make you realize why you love this music."
"Garnett has all the individuality, skill and stamina every star soloist needs, and his debut album as leader is an impressive affair. Alex contributes eight excellent themes including the title track. This is a serpent with plenty of bite."
★★★★ The Evening Standard (Pick of the Week)
"[Serpent] reveals a compositional sharpness that makes this new solo career look like a long-term one... full of exhilarating melodic turns... it's an unexpected gem."
★★★★ The Guardian
"Impeccable... [Serpent] delivers the impression of a club gig even though it's a studio session."
Clarinet and Saxophone Journal
"Alex Garnett has a classic saxophonists sound, and on 'Serpent' he fronts an impeccable band."
Cuadernas de Jazz
"[Garnett] confidently moulds a personal voice out of the best of the contemporary mainstream on his first, somewhat belated album as a leader... with a deep-tone, soulful spontaneity and an impressive sense of form."
★★★★ The Financial Times
"Garnett's trip to NYC in 2009 paid off...what we hear on this disc is something jazz is supposed to offer but seldom does these days."
"These musicians don't chase fashion. They are what they are, and do what they do as well as anyone. It [Serpent] has been worth the wait."
"[Serpent] impresses on numerous levels, including the quality of Garnett’s writing, the playing skills of the individual muscians and the way in which they lock in together as a unit... a belated but emphatic debut for Garnett as bandleader, who reveals himself to be wild, hip and cool in turn."
All About Jazz
"Garnett confirms jazz as one of the most renewable of energies with a very clever, grooving reworking of 'When The Saints Go Marching In' (here renamed 'Atonement'), revealed his and his band’s mastery of Latin American and bebop rhythms and tempos, and encouraged a collective free improvisation that resolved into consummate jazz ballad playing."
"[Serpent] is a self-composed album of agile, fresh-sounding contemporary bop."
"What a great disc! What a great band!... Close your eyes and it could be a '50's blowing session by Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson or Dex, 'cept Garnett has also absorbed later saxophone gurus such as Joe Lovano and George Garzone and the end result is an intricate weave of those influences culminating in a sound that is totally today."
Bebop Spoken Here
"A thoroughly enjoyable and refreshingly unpretentious album, unfussily recorded in what sound like first takes, so that the overall effect is of a hot live performance."
"Garnett is a first call sideman to the stars... [Serpent] is an engaging introduction to a notable talent who's ducked donning the leader's hat for too long."
"Full of life and spontaneity... Garnett has a great muscular style and a rich, gritty tone."
The Jazz Breakfast