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Jan Garbarek is the quintessential ECM artiste — adventurous; disdainful of categories; in possession of a wailing tone well-suited to producer Manfred Eicher's reverberant, airy sonic tastes; and a devotee of the school of wide open spaces without clutter. The latter two points are important, for they unify what might otherwise be a wildly scattered collection of shooting asteroids into a single orbit. Giving all of this eclecticism some general shape, disc one of Garbarek's Rarum volume deals with his sessions as a leader, often with the ethereal mood in play, while the second disc is devoted to the Norwegian saxophonist's collaborations with his celebrated friends from Europe and America over a 22-year span. The first disc has a carefully terraced sense of flow from start to finish, with the opening horn calls of "Skrik & Hyl" and "Viddene" sounding as if they came from high on a mountaintop, with bass, then guitar, then pipe organ as backdrops. With "Lillekort," things get moving in a light Brazilian bag with Nana Vasconcelos providing the groove and the nicely striding "It's OK to Listen to the Gray Voice." The set then veers into some ethereal solo tracks, where Garbarek works with tapes of himself on excerpts from the albums All Those Born With Wings and Legend of the Seven Dreams and reaches a peak of energy on the penultimate track, the title tune of the Twelve Moons album. Within this overall context, the lengthy "Raga I," with a host of Indian musicians, seems not at all out of place, nor is Shankar's playful "Song for Everyone" on disc two. Paying homage where homage is due, four of the first five tracks of disc two are some of Garbarek's collaborations with Keith Jarrett in the '70s — ranging from the esoteric (the lugubriously orchestrated "Windsong" from Luminessence) to some snapshots of the Jarrett European quartet that put Garbarek on the map. Interestingly, in Jarrett's Rarum volume, the pianist writes that he would have liked to have included "Sunshine Song" (from Nude Ants) and a track from Luminessence on his own collection. What he doesn't say is that they turned up on Garbarek's album instead. A coincidence of telepathic tastes — or concealed collusion? Aside from the European quartet tracks, the disc reverts to Garbarek's spare, freewheeling conception of sound, featuring sessions led by guitarists Ralph Towner and Egberto Gismonti, and finally a taste of Garbarek's audacious yet lovely collaboration with the early music Hilliard Ensemble. Alas, Garbarek's liner notes aren't of much use as a guide; he is merely content to thank some of his co-conspirators — mainly Eicher and Jarrett. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi
Born: 04 March 1947 in Norway
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s