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Solstice [CASSETTE]

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette (8 Nov. 1989)
  • Label: Universal Music & VI
  • ASIN: B00000EK41
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD
This music seems a world away from the warmth of Bjornstad, Jarrett, or Weber's own albums, with a stark, crystalline quality created by the stripped sharpness of Towner's guitars and Garbarek's reeds. It has a disciplined, 'classical' feel overall, so that the instruments seem to glitter and sparkle in the austere acoustic. In this recording environment there is no room for error, and the quality of the diamond-bright playing doesn't disappoint, Towner and Garbarek alternately seizing the melody line, and using it to explore the full range of their instruments. Christensen and Weber provide a warm, safe platform from which the soloists explore the territory, discovering some plangent and haunting sounds on the journey (especially in the brief but otherworldly 'Visitation').

All the pieces are by Towner, except 'Sand' which reappears in another guise in Weber's magnificent Yellowfields. 'Oceanus', the opening track, gives the greatest scope for the soloists to stretch out, and their solos develop and augment the crystalline soundscape and its mysterious territory very effectively. However, 'Drifting Petals' provides a warmer, more luscious contrast to all this austerity, and is doubly welcome as it is such an exquisite piece, evocative and enchanting in equal measure. Be clear: this is not an ECM album to relax into, but it is a very high quality example of consummate professional musicianship. Penguin Jazz Guide ****
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Format: Audio CD
The following extraordinary points should be given:

Most curious things in the first half of this recording are, to me, the first [Oceanus] and third [Drifting Petals] songs, which remind me in both the title and musical content of, respectfully, The Ocean Song [from Pat Metheny: Watercolors] and A Lotus on Irish Streams [from Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame]. The feeling is of a strange sameness despite the different measurable identities.

A less curios thing is that the flute theme form 'Nimbus' reminds me of an ECM record by Eberhard Weber - 'The Colours of Chloë'. Towner-Christensen duo funk-number 'Piscean Dance' is again, to me, very reminiscent of the long intro to 'Dancing Girls' [from NHOP Trio: To a Brother]. The piece must also contain the far most inventive version ever recorded of the basic rock/pop-beat on the drum set!

The whole recording is a marvellous masterpiece, including the two short numbers, which are _not_ fillers. This album does not have as much straight-ahead melody as it has _hidden_ melodic content, something that reveals itself by concentrated listening. An example of an element guised in the atmosphere is the appearance and disappearance of the tenor saxophone from, and to, inside of the long, sustained notes of Eberhard Weber's cello [in the first piece]. Ralph Towner plays _excellent_ classical guitar on 'Winter Solstice', a part which could be from any end-of-19th-century Spanish guitar masterpiece. (As well, listen to a little but significant musical "trick" at the end of Drifting Petals, which is not often heard. )

Sum up: I truly recommend this album, if you want to hear a most inventive, imaginative and masterfully performed piece from the ECM catalogue. This is not new age music, but music of a mostly refined and contentuous character. Buy it if you want to take the challenge of getting art-like popular music to really focus on.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After I had listened to this a few times I was a little disconcerted to realise that apart from a general feeling it was a pleasant record I couldn't remember much about it. More listening has confirmed the view that although this is an attractive disc, it is not a great one, as some of the other reviews seem to suggest, and most of the better moments tend to come from Garbarek and the rhythm rather than from Towner.
Garbarek plays mainly tenor and his crying, haunted sound at slow tempo characterises the disc and gives the music the strength it has. By comparison his soprano has always sounded a little light but is not much featured. His flute, a new sound to me, is, and is an important part of the music. Weber's bass is strongly featured, both as carrying melodic lines and supporting the ensemble. Christensen is less prominent but adds constant repeated drum patterns and commentary although little rhythmic impulse. All three musicians have long experience in the ECM type of music and their work here is an attractive example of that style.
Towner is slightly different. His acoustic guitar is pleasing and fits in well with the harsh sound of Garbarek's tenor. When he solos at length he shows himself to be a fine guitarist but to these ears he spends a little too much time making sounds off to the other players rather than any extended music.
Of the tunes, 'Visitation' and 'Red And Black' are little more than brief interludes, but 'Oceanus' is a lengthy piece featuring good solo and group improvisation all round. The remaining tunes are mainly slowish but Garbarek works up a considerable head of steam a couple of times and there is an attractive guitar feature on 'Piscean Dance' and some appealing flute on a couple of tracks. Indeed, there is considerable variety on the disc bearing in mind the similarity of tempi in most tunes.
So, an attractive record, without being particularly significant.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a meeting of the original 'Colours' and 'Solstice' ECM house bands. It shows Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Jon Christensen, and Towner himself at the peak of their musical prowess. From the roaring hard reed saxaphone sound of Garbarek, cascading 12 string from Towner, rumbling upright bass of Weber and crashing percussion of JC - a classic ECM album
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