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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. There is much to tell here, not merely to show. These short works are, in effect, aural stories. They arise from her intuitive understanding of an instrument and sound as well as her improvisational abilities as a percussionist, but they emerge as almost sung narratives told on her array of bells, marimba, bowed vibraphones, log drums, udu, cymbals, gongs, waterphone, hang, and metal utensils — instruments and tools from all of the earth's continents. They are startling vignettes, because they offer a connection to something earlier to be sure, but also to something very universal in their accessibility as a kind of folk art. When she works with Garbarek, the sheer intuitive nature of their communication is simply startling. They do know one another well, but this is truly out of the ordinary. To be honest, as fine as Garbarek's own records have been, listeners haven't really heard him play like this for many years. The structured melodies and dynamic reaches in "Orientales," for instance, come from a very simple idea that he modulates on and returns to over and over again, but his intonation and sense of attack are very different than on his own records. Likewise, the tribal-sounding "Dunun Song" allows for the saxophonist to take his tenor and dance along a thematic idea that is as rooted in blues and New Orleans music as it is in African cultures. The relatively free abstraction in "Winter Wish," the longest of these 21 improvisations at a little over four minutes, is nonetheless measured by Mazur's sense of pace and space, and how her own measured tones offer another voice for her collaborator. The beautiful cymbal, cowbell, and log drums on "Creature Walk" are knotty, ever shifting in pulse and timbre, but always toward rather than away from the listener. The nocturnal waterphone on "Metal Dew," with the longish tones of shimmering small bells and rubbed cymbals, presents another piece of musical alchemy that, while sounding utterly strange and almost exotic, is nonetheless fantastically approachable and beautifully nuanced. In fact, the manner in which this album is structured draws the listener from front to back without once being overwhelming. Indeed, if anything, one is drawn increasingly and with great fascination into these gorgeous rhythmic poems, as if to a new land that is simultaneously welcoming and strange. Fantastic.
Born: 04 March 1947 in Norway
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s
Top Albums and Songs by Jan Garbarek
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||Paradigm||Voice from the Past - Paradigm||6:50||0,99 €||View In iTunes|
||Hasta Siempra||Witchi-Tai-To||8:14||0,99 €||View In iTunes|
||Parce Mihi Domine||Officium||6:42||0,99 €||View In iTunes|