JJ 10/73: Jan Garbarek – Triptykon

Fifty years ago Martin Davidson found Garbarek original (with hints of Coltrane, Lateef, Barbieri and Coxhill) but blighted by poor drumming. First published in Jazz Journal October 1973


The opening Rim reveals Jan Garbarek to be a strong and original tenor player sometimes reminiscent of Yusef Lateef and Gato Barbieri. This track also shows Arild Andersen to be a good bass player, and Edward Vesala to be a lousy drummer whether playing behind the beautiful tenor solo or ruining its effect by following it with a very floppy drum solo. (Virtually all of the short Sang consists of another such exploration of flop.)

The other two long tracks, J.E.V. (a surrealist ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’) and Triptykon feature the leader’s orig­inal soprano playing recorded with too much echo. Actually, on the latter tracks he forsakes his originality after a while to fall into the familiar Coltrane trap and then surprisingly ending up sounding like Lol Coxhill. These three tracks which make up the bulk of the record do have some fine moments, but suffer from a continual sameness of feel, largely due to the unimaginative drum­ming.

The short tracks do add some variety with Bruremarsj being a light hearted look at a Norwegian folk song, and Selje sounding like a Bulgarian shep­herd’s flute song with irrelevant ac­companiment. The remaining Etu Hei! is a tenor/percussion duet whose agita­tion comes as a welcome relief even though Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker play that area of music with much more conviction.

An interesting record that probably could have been recommended if there had been a better drummer, and more substantial music.

Rim; Selje; J.E.V. (20¾ min) – Sang; Triptykon; Etu Hei!; Bruremarsj (22 min)
Jan Garbarek (flt/sop/ten/bari); Arild Andersen (bs except on ‘Etu Hei!’); Edward Vesala (perc). Oslo 8/11/72.
(ECM 1029ST £2.45)