JJ 12/93: Miroslav Vitous & Jan Garbarek: Atmos

Thirty years ago Michael Tucker heard Vitous eschewing his trademark arco style and prompting Garbarek to react to more jazz-inflected lines. First published in Jazz Journal December 1993

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With the exception of the two brief – and eruptive – Time Out pieces, which feature samples of Expressionist-oriented orchestral sounds, this contemplative, ad libitum music formed the heart of the excellent set which Vitous and Garbarek played at this year’s Bath Festival.

Technical problems with pickups have recently led Vitous to eschew the special, singing arco lines which had become so much a part of his musical persona. However, they are hardly missed here, as Vitous mixes ‘real time’ percussive effects on the body of his bass with a remarkably strong – yet subtle – range of pizzicato melody. The poetically integrated blend of harmonics, space and deep glisses which introduces the title track’s haunting theme is typical of the pleasures on offer; but so also is the warm, near-walking quality in the development of Hippukrene.

Garbarek’s contributions evince his customary melodic and dynamic sensitivity, his sound as majestic as ever. In both Goddess and Hippukrene, it’s interesting to hear him responding to a more obviously jazz-inflected line than is usually the case with his work with Eberhard Weber – reminding one somewhat of his previous contributions to another fine bass-led album, Gary Peacock’s 1977 December Poems (ECM 1119). One of my records of the year.


Discography
(*) Pegasos; (*) Goddess; Forthcoming; (*) Atmos; (+ *) Time Out – part 1; Direvision; (+ *) Time Out – part 2; (+) Helikon; (*) Hippukrene (42.39)
Miroslav Vitous (b/electronic samples on +) with (*) Jan Garbarek (ts/ss). Oslo, February, 1992.
(ECM 1475)