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Jan Garbarek - Jan Garbarek - Bobo Stenson Quartet: Witchi-Tai-To CD (album) cover


Jan Garbarek


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.70 | 19 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Norwegian saxophonist and composer Jan Garbarek started his recording career in the late 60's. During the 70's he made albums in a breathtaking pace, often in a more or less equal collaboration with other musicians such as Terje Rypdal or Keith Jarrett. The jazz world seems to consider Witchi-Tai-To as one of his biggest classics. Well... I'm not saying this wouldn't be very good jazz album, but it's surely not the most representative of Garbarek's "icy" Scandinavian trademark sound, and to start with, none of the compositions are by himself. Actually I'm better familiar with his more recent (from the mid-80's onwards) output which I like a lot. According to the sole previous reviewer Snobb, this one was different from Garbarek's earlier, more avant- oriented releases, reaching "the peak of still innovative and accessible symbiosis". Maybe that explains its high status.

It's a quartet effort, pianist Bobo Stenson marked as equal to Garbarek. Stenson is a fantastic artist in his own rights, and if you generally enjoy piano as the lead instrument in jazz, you'll find it easy to enjoy this album. The opening piece 'A. I. R.' is written by Carla Bley who also had recorded it. Garbarek's soprano sax is wailing around the restricted basic pattern. Thanks to the 8-minute length, it feels both meditative and epic. 'Kukka' (the word means flower in Finnish, but it may be just a coincidence) is composed by the quartet's bassist Palle Danielsson. This is rather mellow jazz piece, highlighting the bright and decorative piano playing.

'Hasta Siempre', originally a Che Guevara -themed protest song by Cuban musician Carlos Puebla, sees Garbarek giving his all on tenor sax. Despite the passion, eight minutes is perhaps a bit too much for this piece. Like 'Kukka', the title track written by Jim Pepper is another shortish, safe and melodic jazz tune, with solistic spots for both tenor sax and piano. Very enjoyable. And finally there's a 20-minute version of Don Cherry's 'Desireless' which originally lasted only a minute on Cherry's Relativity Suite (1973). This is really great stuff, the piece proceeds with full inspiration from the quartet. In the middle I find myself being spellbound by the bass line. The lengthy bass solo that follows the passionate, sax-dominated section is for me a slight moment of boredom, as bass solos in jazz have never really impressed me. The epic closes beautifully in a slow and thoughtful manner.

My expectations on this album were not very high (namely as a Jan Garbarek work), but I found a lot to enjoy in it, and if it's seen as one of the jazz classics of the 70's, I have no strong reason to disagree.

Matti | 4/5 |


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