JJ 01/92: Jan Garbarek – Photo With . . .

Thirty years ago, Mark Gilbert found the Norwegian saxophonist rummaging at length in the lumber room of the unconscious. First published in Jazz Journal January 1992


This session comes forward again as a result of the steady digitalisation of the ECM catalogue. Thirteen years have wrought few significant changes in the Nordic sax titan’s approach, although here he is occasionally more extrovert than received wisdom would allow. This is most appar­ent on the nearly funky opener, which shares its opening motif with Joe Zawinul’s A Remark You Made of the previous year.

How­ever, for the most part the music is typically melancholy and vaguely focused, with items like Cloud and Windows not so much begin­ning as coming into being. Fre­quently a steady momentum is established, but long stretches are deeply introspective and self-indulgent, the group rummaging at length in the lumber room of the unconscious.

Often this medi­tative effect is abetted by the off-the-peg exoticism which certain scales will confer. For example, Garbarek makes much of melismatic embellishment of half-steps from the Dorian mode on Win­dows and from the harmonic minor on Red Roof.

Those looking for swinging intensity and harmonic substance will need to look elsewhere, but like much Garbarek this contains moments of penetrating power and beauty.

Blue Sky; White Cloud; Windows; Red Roof; Wires; The Picture (43.54)
Garbarek (ts/ss); Bill Connors (g/elg); John Taylor (p); Eberhard Weber (elb); Jon Chris-tensen (d). Oslo, December 1978.
(ECM 1135)