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Album Review

Among the many stylistic twists and turns negotiated by Jan Garbarek early in his career, the subtle shift in direction from the previous, spectacular Witchi-Tai-To to Dansere was probably the most decisive. In fact, Dansere, recorded in 1975, was one of the first examples of what would come to be known as the "ECM sound," not so much for the usual crystalline recording quality but for a creeping, languidly pastoral sensibility that would become more and more prominent both in Garbarek's own work as well as in the label's releases in general. Still, that granola and Birkenstock aura is subdued enough in this album to grudgingly recommend it to fans of his earlier work. Bassist Palle Danielsson, while less angular and experimental than Arild Andersen, provides a solid and propulsive foundation for Garbarek and Stenson, the former tending to increasingly rein in his playing as the influence of Albert Ayler, so prominent in his first albums, continued to wane. Instead, one can hear traces of Keith Jarrett, with whom Garbarek had recently been working and, indeed, much of Dansere compares favorably with Jarrett's quartet work from around the same time. Fans of his subsequent work with the Hilliard Ensemble might find this relatively tough sledding while lovers of albums like Tryptikon could well hear excessive smoothness, but it stands up decently enough on its own merits.

Biography

Born: 04 March 1947 in Norway

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek's icy tone and liberal use of space and long tones has long been perfect for the ECM sound and, as a result, he is on many recordings for that label, both as a leader and as a sideman. He had won a competition for amateur jazz players back in 1962, leading to his first gigs. Garbarek worked steadily in Norway throughout the remainder of the '60s, usually as a leader but also for four years with George Russell (who was in Scandinavia for a long stretch). Garbarek...
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