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.
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.
Dresden is an eagerly awaited release. It has been five years since In Praise of Dreams, eleven years since Rites, and sixteen years since Twelve Moons the last Garbarek disc identified unequivocally as Jan Garbarek Group album. In the interim, through steady touring, the ensemble has become perhaps the most popular European group currently playing instrumental music with strong improvisational traits - beyond genre now, and in an idiom of its own, broader than "jazz", though still inspired by its most open-minded exponents.