JJ 05/82: Jan Garbarek – Eventyr

Forty years ago Matthew Bateson saw in the Norwegian's latest session why he had been called the Ingmar Bergman of the saxophone. First published in Jazz Journal May 1982

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In conceptual terms, there is little here that this undeniably talented saxophonist has not expounded on previous, better efforts (‘Dis’, ‘Places’), and the presence of Aber­crombie and Vasconcelos has little beneficial effect on Garbarek’s music; both men prove all too willing to subjugate their idiosyncratic talents to the leader’s insular concepts.

The album’s interminable opening piece, Soria Maria, is quintessential Garbarek, and illustrates why one critic has called him ‘the Ingmar Bergman of the saxophone’. An oppressive sense of icy gloom pre­dominates, with a persistent and lugubrious drone supporting the leader’s static legato lines; Aber­crombie interjects glimmering flurries of notes and Vasconcelos contributes tastefully on various tympanic instruments.

Elsewhere, especially on Lillekort and Once Upon A Time, there is a greater sense of flow and movement – Abercrombie delivers a darting, pen­sive solo of considerable intelligence on the latter – but despite its arty packaging, superlative recording quality, generous playing time and enigmatic track titles, ‘Eventyr’ is just another typical ECM release, with the sombre facade of great art but without the concomitant emotional depth.

To hear what this saxophonist is really capable of, listen to his work on Ralph Towner’s ‘Solstice’ album, Kenny Wheeler’s ‘Deer Wan’, or George Russell’s ‘Othello Suite’.

Discography
Soria Maria; Lillekort; Eventyr; Weaving A Garland (27.50) – Once Upon A Time; The Companion; Snipp, Snapp, Snute; East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon (27.11)
Jan Garbarek (ss/ts); John Abercrombie (elg); Nana Vasconcelos (pc).
(ECM 1200)