A more eclectic release than his preceding releases, Jan Garbarek's I Took Up the Runes satisfies listeners who had been more or less impatient for something with some meat and some muscle. Opening with a jazzy cover of Mari Persen's "Gula Gula," made fuller with bass guitar accompaniment that modifies the chord structure of the whole tune, the album next features the five-part "Molde Canticle," which spans from a dreamy esoteric sound to African folk music. Garbarek really wails in places, and it is a welcome surprise – he should wail more than he does. Synthesizer sounds are starting to become less prominent as well. There is excellent piano work by Rainer Bruninghaus and excellent vocalizing by guest artist Ingor Antte Ailu Gaup. A sign of good things to come.
A fascinating set from three strong and contrasting musical personalities: Norwegian saxophonist, Brazilian guitarist-pianist, and US bassist making purposeful and creative music together on this previously unreleased live recording. “Carta de Amor” documents music captured at Munich’s Amerika Haus in April, 1981. Two years on from the much-loved albums “Magico” (ECM 1151) and “Folk Songs” (ECM 1170), the trio’s improvisational empathy and sensibilities were further honed by experiences as a touring group. Repertoire includes five pieces from Gismonti’s pen, with the title track heard in two variations, opening and closing this enthralling double album.
Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek took several intriguing stylistic turns early in his career, none more extreme than that shown on Triptykon. While he had always shown an affinity for the work of Albert Ayler and other free jazz musicians who came of age in the '60s, his prior albums retained a more straight-ahead rhythmic drive and more than a passing nod to experimental rock and fusion. Here, he jettisoned guitarist Terje Rypdal and replaced the sometimes overly delicate percussion work of Jon Christensen with the more earthy and heavy sounding Edward Vesala. The result is an expressionist trio drawing on both free improvisation and Scandinavian folk tunes, roaring, stumbling, and reeling, evoking an aural equivalent of Edvard Munch.
A welcome return to the ECM catalog for three of the most striking of the early recordings which Jan Garbarek made for the label in the 1970s. In different but related ways Sart (1971), Witchi-Tai-To (1973) and Dansere (1975) brought freshly intelligent and invigorating perspective to bear on questions of dynamics, group sound, interaction and swing, the relation of improvisation and abstraction to the roots of jazz, and the relevance of archetypal yet freshly inflected folk forms to contemporary music. Two ensembles are heard here – Garbarek/Stenson/Rypdal/Andersen/Christensen on the exploratory Sart, and the spirited Jan Garbarek-Bobo Stenson Quartet, one of the most exciting groups of the era.
It's been six years since these same performers got together to create one of the decade's more unusual experiments in musical alchemy. Beginning with the raw materials of early music and modern jazz, the four male voices of the Hilliard Ensemble joined with jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek to see what would happen when the proper measure of old music and new style were combined, shaped by the performers' considerable experience and collective aesthetic vision.
This limited edition, 'Works Series', gives a reasonable overview of Garbarek's prolific output on ECM over a period of ten years (1970-80). Unusually, three of the eight tracks showcase him playing flute, which would be a rarity now, and both his tenor & soprano sax work is also featured.
Elixir is the first album Danish percussionist Marilyn Mazur has recorded as a leader for ECM in 14 years. It is an interesting number for Mazur, because she has also spent 14 years as a member of saxophonist Jan Garbarek's recording and touring ensembles. He appears on about half of Elixir as Mazur's only collaborator (apart from producer Manfred Eicher). That said, the solo pieces are the first remarkable aspect of this set. When Mazur works alone, her pieces defy everything we think we know about solo percussion recordings: there is a warmth and directness in these proceedings that is songlike rather than merely hypnotic or virtuosic.
Outstanding folk-jazz album. I think this is my favourite Garbarek album; it is tightly-focused, composed and performed. The whole album evokes life in the northwoods and carries a real outdoors feel. The best tracks are Molde 4, His Eyes Were Suns, and the title track, but each cut is interesting and moving. My only complaint is that the production is somewhat suspect. I find myself needing to adjust the volume constantly – either the sax is too loud or the background too quiet. I own the original CD, though, not the remaster. Maybe the remaster is normalized a little better.