Reviews of Garrison’s recordings have been published in a variety of international jazz magazines:


steve swell andrew raffo dewar garrison fewell estuaries

Estuaries: 2013 · Avant-Garde Jazz  3.5/5 · 2013-07-19

There was a time when the term “avant-garde jazz” was synonymous with high decibels boosted by screeching saxophones and scatter shot multiple percussionists. Somewhere along the way, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and others in the AACM scene introduced the radical idea of free improvisation performed quietly, or at varying volumes. This idea of low volume free improvisation is taken to new extremes on Steve Swell’s latest endeavor, “Estuaries”. This CD contains 13 tracks, with ten of them labeled with the titles “Estuary” 1 through 10. The first two “Estuaries” introduce some tasteful pointillist interplay between the three musicians, but starting with “Estuary 3” and continuing for another 20 minutes to “Estuary 7”, the musicians perform at near whisper volumes. The three instrumentalists (Steve Swell-trombone, Andrew Raffo Dewar-soprano sax, Garrison Fewell-guitar) use their instruments to produce sounds not typically associated with their chosen axe. Much of this section sounds like the low buzz and whispered hum of electronic devices at work. All of the players show a lot of discipline and concentration during this interaction.

Things change up at track eight as the next three pieces consist of composed graphs for the players to improvise off of. These tracks are well played and sound like modern concert hall music. I’m reminded of that excellent series of albums that CRI put out in the 60s and 70s that documented many little known composers and their atonal chamber pieces. This sort of small scale avant-garde music is a fascinating miniature world all its own.

This CD closes out with three more “Estuaries” (8-10), although now the “Estuaries” are not as quiet and the musician’s improvisations reflect the nature of the three previous composed pieces. Overall this a very good set of improvised music performed with great taste and careful attention to one’s fellow musicians.

Variable Density Sound Orchestra
Sound Particle 47

“Melodicism and freedom don’t often go hand in hand, but guitarist Garrison Fewell is carving out a niche for himself where such a pairing seems inevitable.”
   —John Sharpe, AllAboutJazz-New York

“Good band balance, nice themes (not all Fewell’s; Hofbauer, Campbell and Swell contribute; John Tchicai too), fine production…Sound Particle 47 could become addictive.”
   —François Couture, Monsieur Délire

“Garrison Fewell’s second album with his tumultuous gang of horn-blowers and noisemakers is a jubilant cacophony that compromises absolutely nothing!”
   —John Garratt, (8/2010)

“This is advanced ensemble improvisation that begins where Mingus’s larger ensemble works leave off and takes the music to further outposts and way stations in the realm of new sounds. Sound Particle 47 brings to you an uncompromising look at what thoughtful compositions and intelligent improvisation can do when built up by a very talent group of musicians. This is a first-rate performance of cuttingly acute music. Definitely recommended for an excellent example of what is gong on right now.”
   —Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

“It’s a formidable ensemble essaying memorable contributions with unusual formal structures that keep the improvisers on their toes…a complete program that holds together like a suite.”
   —Robert Iannapollo, Signal to Noise



Variable Density Sound Orchestra

“This is as intriguing a project as has been available on the contemporary jazz scene, and comes highly recommended. It’s chock full of inventive musicianship, truly new concepts, and fresh approaches that pay big dividends.”
   —Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

Recommended New Release (February 2009)
—Laurence Donohue-Greene, AllAboutJazz NY

“An intense two-guitar chamber group led by the Boston guitarist, whose output with colleague Eric Hofbauer is looking more and more essential.”
—David R. Adler, Lerterland

“There’s one strange and wonderful event after another in Fewell’s pieces — eloquent solo statements, serendipitous combinations of clang and sigh, the beauty of his guitar set across the soundstage from Hofbauer’s slightly harder-edged sound as the two support the other players. At times, the bed of complimentary guitar sounds acts like a pine-needle-covered path through a shady forest.”
—Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix

“Delights abound on every track and while there is no doubting the serious intent, this recording must have been as much fun to make as it is to listen to.”
—John Sharpe,



The Lady of  Khartoum (2008, CNM)

All About Jazz (3/2008)
All About Jazz (3/2008)




Good Night Songs (2006, Boxholder):
Best Jazz Recording of 2006 by the Boston Phoenix.

“Tchicai posses an unfailing melodic instinct that turns his every improvisation into a miniature act of spontaneous composition. Guitarist Garrison Fewell whose ethereal playing brings out a more lyrical side in Tchicai, seems to drift along beneath his collaborators, providing a fluid bed over which they can serenely flow.”
— Shaun Brady, Philadelphia Citypaper

Read this excellent feature article on the trio by the Boston Globe.


R-4746968-1374215395-2868.jpegBig Chief Dreaming (2005, Soul Note):
Best of 2005 by Jazz Review (UK), and the Montreal Gazzette

“Like no other album to come across my desk this year, this one demands to be heard again and again. It unfolds over time and reveals no small charms. Tchicai and company make an evocative team. They also bring the scorched earth of free jazz back to life with a flower or two.”
—Dan Rose, One Final Note

“Garrison Fewell’s writing often bears similarities to Sun Ra and Don Cherry with its open forms. Case in point is the album’s centerpiece: ‘The Queen of Ra.’”
—Troy Collins, AAJ


”His beautiful tone and effortless, fluid lines draw the listener in as only a select few have done…a fine guitarist who appeals on the sublime, emotional level of a Bill Evans or a Jim Hall.” -James Rozzi, Wired

”His active imagination is restless; his musical intelligence is acute; his standards are high.”-Thomas Conrad, DownBeat

”Continually surprising change-ups in phrasing, technique and timing, along with a perceptive balance between forward linear motion and shifting horizontal timbres are the hallmarks of Fewell’s style.”-Milo Fine, Cadence

”With phrasing that is simply flawless he digs into harmonies with a clear and unique style, free of cliche.”-M. Ariodante, Axe (Italy)

”Guitarist Garrison Fewell is a find one of the music’s best kept secrets. A fine composer and a sure stylist with a hearty mahogany tone”-Bob Young, Jazziz

”Garrison Fewell performs flawlessly on guitar, gliding over the chords effortlessly.”-Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

”Guitarist Garrison Fewell has the maturity to appreciate the importance of connecting the dots: fitting ideas together and making them work.”-Nils Jacobson, All About Jazz

”The very title of Fewell’s first Accurate CD – A Blue Deeper Than the Blue – suggests the layered indigo shades and poetic echoes heard from his guitar. Each note has shape and substance, each solo definition and flexibility… legato phraseology, ripe emotions, pristine beauties of sound.” – Jazz Times


A Blue Deeper Than Blue (1993, Accurate Records): Awarded Best Jazz Recording 1993, by the Boston Music Awards, Top Ten by Coda Magazine, UPI, and Guitar Player.

”…a subtle jewel of a debut album, one that instantly places him in the top rank of jazz guitarists anywhere.”-Boston Herald

Reflection of a Clear Moon (1995, Accurate Records): Awarded Top Ten Best Jazz of 1995 by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Birdland Sessions (2000, Koch Jazz): ”Birdland Sessions is probably most significant for his catchy originals. several deserve to be interpreted by other players and have the potential to become future standards.”– All Music Guide

Red Door Number 11 (2003, Splasc(H) Records): ”Red Door is a lot like the timeless ’60s duet recordings Bill Evans made with Jim Hall in more than a few ways. In the best ways, really. Provided you have the maturity to appreciate understatement, Red Door Number 11 is an unqualified success.”- All About Jazz

”When it comes to playing traditional jazz guitar – nimble, swinging, bop- inflected lines on a honey- toned archtop – few contemporary pickers can match Garrison Fewell.” – Andy Ellis, Guitar Player magazine. May ’04

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