The title, Blood Songs, accompanied by a cover image of man who looks like a hired gun, standing before a wall that’s marked with spatter, might give the impression of something dark and sinister. However, the music of Matt Garrison’s release (D Clef Records, 2012) is bright and, for the most part, cheerful.
Despite the Mafioso cover, this set is a tribute to Garrison’s parents. To make it happen, Garrison brought together a diverse pool of talent: Greg Gisbert on trumpet and flugelhorn; Michael Dease on trombone; Roy Assaf on piano; Dezron Douglas on bass; and Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums. Garrison plays tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones. Guests Eric Alexander, tenor, Dave Kain, guitar, and Andrew Swift, guitar, appear on selected tracks.
“Mom’s Song” has a bossa nova feel to it. The horns blend on the melody, with Gisbert stepping out on key notes. The samba kicks in during Garrison’s baritone solo. “Parental Units,” one of the longer pieces in the set, is quiet, like a family sitting about the fireplace, enjoying one another’s company. Owens makes effective use of the splash cymbal. Garrison makes his horn squeal during some of the more emotional outpourings.
Covers notwithstanding, Blood Music is about the love of family. The way Garrison plays the sax and orchestrates the band should make mom and dad proud.