- Audio CD (25 Jun. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 3
- Format: Box set
- Label: ECM
- ASIN: B007W8RE3O
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,020 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Dansere Box set
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A welcome return to the ECM catalogue - in a specially priced 3-CD box set in the label's Old & New Masters Edition series - for three of the most striking of the early recordings which Jan Garbarek made for the label in the 1970s. In different but related ways Sart (1971), Witchi-Tai-To (1973) and Dansere (1975) brought freshly intelligent and invigorating perspective to bear on questions of dynamics, group sound, interaction and swing, the relation of improvisation and abstraction to the roots of jazz, and the relevance of archetypal yet freshly inflected folk forms to contemporary music.
Two ensembles are heard here - Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen (the "Big Four" of Norwegian jazz), together with Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson - on the exploratory Sart, and the spirited Jan Garbarek-Bobo Stenson Quartet, completed by Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen - one of the most exciting groups of the era - on the two later albums.
"Witchi-Tai-To was probably the first of his records about which it is possible to say that it was both characteristic and surprising, both impressionistic and funky, European and jazz-based. The saxophone tone is more relaxed... The title-piece is a version of Jim Pepper's surprise hit, a delightful performance that is as fresh now as ever." - The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD
Personnel (collective): Jan Garbarek (soprano, tenor & bass saxophones, flute), Bobo Stenson (piano, electric piano), Palle Danielsson (double-bass), Jon Christensen (drums, percussion), Terje Rypdal (guitar), Arild Andersen (double-bass)
'Sart reflects both Miles Davis's late-60s fusion and Coltrane's and Albert Ayler's free-sax odysseys...while Witchi-Tai-To is steered by Stenson's affection for folk-song melody. But 1975's Dansere finds Garbarek beginning to leave orthodox jazz-sax methods behind, his tone now unique, his phrasing sparing.' -- The Guardian, (John Fordham)* * * *
'Sart has a wonderful early 70s feel...some very responsive and sympathetic playing from Christensen.' -- Drummer, (Brent Keefe) * * * *
' Both Witchi-Tai-To and Dansere are full of the fluid melody and invention that would define Garbarek's career.' -- The Times, (John Bungey) * * * *
'A vital insight into how Garbarek's adaptations of free and spiritual jazz created their own, distinctively northern European feel..."Witchi-Ti-To" and "Dansere" are close to masterpieces.' -- The Independent On Sunday, (Phil Johnson) * * * *
'The bass saxophone/bass duet of Close Enough for Jazz is a forgotten gem, as is Rypdal's closing solo showcase Lontano...Christensen is more time lord than timekeeper, doing impossible things with the bar lines.' -- Jazz Journal, (Brian Morton) * * * *
'A detailed commentary by Michael Tucker is very helpful in setting the recordings in context and showing all the connections between the musicians and repertoire.'--The Northern Echo, (Peter Bevan)
Top Customer Reviews
"Sart"is a 14 minute exploration into progressive European Jazz,featuring fine Bass and Electric piano solos,this is extreme playing by all players with fine,fluid playing by all.
"Fountain of tears part one and two"starts off very quietly,with some percussive effects and then a drum beat is added.with Garbarek gradually taking over.part two is wonderfully inventive.
"Song of space"is another long piano led piece,which leads into a virtuoso performance from Terje Rypdal.
"Close enough for Jazz"is the shortest track at just over two minutes and could loosley be described as "chamber jazz".
"Irr"has Arild playing as only he can!
"Lontano"again another two minute track to end the CD,if you are looking for an easy guide to early Garbarek,then perhaps this first CD is not for you you may find it easier to to;
CD TWO.....WITCHI TAI TO
"A.I.R" a medium paced,more expressive,melodic track than on the previous disc,with Garbarek playing more freely than before.
"Kukka"a four minute excercise in pure jazz,not smooth,but just as listenable.
"Hasta Siempre"with a longer playing time this gives the band the freedom to innovate and explore.this sounds slightly Russian in tone.
"Witchi tai to" Jan's interpretation of the Jim Pepper classic.
"Desireless"is the track that establishes the credentials of these master musicians,twenty minutes of pure musical genius.
CD THREE......Read more ›
'Sart' dates from 1971. It is much more abstract than the other two. Indeed Garbarek sounds almost as if he has broken his style down into its constituent parts and is playing them all separately. The title tune is as much sound as melody from him over a broken rhythm with Rypdal dragging everybody back to a repeated motif. 'Fountain of Tears' is a slow ballad, beautifully realised, and 'Song of Space' features Jan and Rypdal playing in unison for much of the time. 'Lontano' also mainly features Rypdal. The band as a whole are together, with Anderson being very mobile on bass and Stenson, a superb two handed pianist a little like Keith Jarrett, making sure something is always happening.
However, this disc pales into insignificance when compared to 'Witchi-Tai-To'. Bass and drums support the band as to the manner born and Stenson, given much more space, solos extensively. Garbarek is much more melodic than on 'Sart', playing keening melodic lines but also administering some very firm treatment when required. The whole band sounds very much like Keith Jarrett's quartet on 'My Song', which featured Garbarek and which became enormously popular. This session is as good and Stenson fully matches Jarrett's playing.Read more ›
In the case of this album the Brecker and Potter examples aren't pertinent anyway, recorded in November of 1975 as it was. Even at that time there was a keening, almost yearning edge on Garbarek's tenor tone, as is self-evident on the title track. What's clear from this one also is the fact that this was a quartet as intent on subverting the theme-solos-theme as any band, although in this case their work is also shot through with a kind of unhurried grace. Pianist Bobo Stenson had his own thing going on too, and hindsight allows us the benefit of seeing that he was destined to become the singular talent he is in the present day.
"Bris" finds Garbarek unwittingly embodying the glacial cliché he's subsequently been saddled with, but the point is far outweighed by the depth of originality in his musical conception. Showy flights are out of the question for him, which has the effect of making every one of his notes tell in a way which might not otherwise be the case. Having said that, if the Coltrane comparison holds any water at all it's in the degree to which the quartet collectively rolls and boils, albeit in comparatively restrained -or should that be relatively different?- fashion. However it might be it's still the case that bass player Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen on drums are capable of working up a potent head of steam.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Chances are if you're reading this you're already familiar with Garbarek's (and Stenson's ) work, particularly the album "Witchi-Tai-To". This is a welcome reissue of some of Garbarek's best work in the jazz genre. Beginning with the album "Sart", from 1971, Garbarek hasn't made the advance he would with his next album. But this album does have some very beautiful passages throughout. Personnel include Garbarek-tenor and bass sax/flute, Bobo Stenson (a personal favorite)-piano/electric piano, Terje Rypdal-guitar, Arild Andersen-bass, and John Christensen-drums. Garbarek makes good use of both the bass sax, and the flute, and Stenson is just beginning to be heard in this group context. Rypdal is heard here too, in his usual sometimes hard guitar sound (listen to "Song Of Space") that he became known for (especially early on) on his own albums and others. His solo piece "Lontano" is refreshingly restrained. The rhythm section is intuitive-a good thing, for this music could easily lose it's way with a heavy handed foundation of bass and drums. All in all, a pretty good album, but Garbarek's sound would change on his next recording.
Witchi-Tai-To", from 1973, is the album most people know from Garbarek's early recording career. Featured are Garbarek-tenor/soprano sax, Stenson-piano, Christensen-drums, and the fine Palle Danielsson-bass. This is, arguably, Garbarek's best early work. Not only is his sax playing more open and warm sounding (something never truly heard again), but the great Bobo Stenson really comes to the fore on these compositions. This album was originally going to be a Stenson ECM recording date, such is his playing ability. But Stenson asked Garbarek to join him because they worked musically so well together. And more needs to be said about both Christensen and Danielsson. For whatever reason, they both acquit themselves very well here-some of their best playing-and that's saying something. Not only do they lay down a foundation for both Garbarek and Stenson, but they color the sound in subtle yet fascinating ways. Listen to "Hasta Siempre" for a good example of this group's interplay-but examples are all over this album.
And of course Jim Pepper's title track (the shortest tune here) is full of Stenson's beautiful, subtle playing, along with Garbarek, who comes in after a couple of minutes with a sax sound that both echoes and plays off of Stenson. And (again) the rhythm section is crucial here-and they deliver. But (for me) one of the stand out tunes is Don Cherry's composition "Desireless". This lengthy (20+ minutes) is simply beautiful in it's execution. Garbarek's tenor sax playing is very in tune with Cherry's original composition. Stenson perhaps plays as beautifully as anything he did on this album. And Christensen's cymbal work is just right. And when Danielsson comes up to the front after 5 minutes or so, the composition is elevated a bit more with his warm bass sound-everything comes together beautifully-and perfectly. Needless to say-a highlight of both this box set and Garbarek's (and Stenson's) career.
The third album here, "Dansere", recorded in 1975, is a departure from the previous album's overall sound and feel, even though the band is the same as the previous album. Garbarek's playing is back to his slightly moody, cooler, atmospheric style. Stenson too, is playing in a more abstract mode than on the previous album. Both players (including the rhythm section) are employing a lot of open space in the music. The music is atmospheric-conjuring up visions of the frozen, open wastes of Garbarek's Norwegian homeland. Garbarek has said that the title track was very important to him in his development, and you can hear why. Much has been said about this album not sounding like it's predecessor. The composition "Bris" is suggestive of the group's playing on the previous album-but then listen to the following track, "Skrik & Hyl", a short (1 1/2 minutes), which slides into "Lokk", another atmospheric, cool and open tune. A bit different than the feel of "Witchi...". But this album stands in stark, beautiful contrast to the warmer playing on "Witchi...". And besides, why try to repeat something that was done so well? This album, in it's own way, is as good as it's predecessor. The general openness, the slightly cooler sound of the group, Garbarek's individual sound, the subtle open notes from Stenson, everything comes together nicely on this fine album.
ECM has done fans of these albums a favor by releasing them in one nice box set. The 28 page booklet has album particulars, a long essay on the music on all three albums, and some good b&w photographs of the band members. Each disc slips inside a cardboard sleeve, and everything fits inside a thick cardboard, lidded box. A couple of small niggles-the box is a white cardboard, and will pick up smudges easily. And (to me) the most important thing about the booklet is that the original album covers are relegated (seemingly almost as an afterthought) to the back of the booklet, and are in b&w-too bad. It would've been nice to have the historically correct covers. But the music is the important thing here, and having these fine albums in one set makes this something worth considering purchasing. Fans of Stenson, if you're looking for more from this fine player, should check out the set "Serenity" (ECM) under Stenson's name. This contains some very fine playing throughout both discs. And for something fine by Garbarek, check into the album "Dis" (ECM), and hear how his playing has evolved.
One obvious difference between the two albums are the compositions: Dansere consists entirely of Jan Garbarek material, while Witchi-Tai-To was (with one exception, the Palle Danielsson-composed "Kukka") a very inspired "covers" album. Dansere does have its great moments: the 15-minute meandering epic title track is easily among the best Garbarek has ever recorded, and "Bris" gamely attempts to recapture some of the previous album's wide-angle scope and fiery intensity. The rest of the album comes across as filler: gifted musicians marking time. Needless to say, if you have to choose between the two, take Witchi-Tai-To, and while Dansere does deserve a good listen every now and again, don't be surprised if after hearing it for the first time, you find yourself saying (as I did), "Is that all?"
I find the similarity of mood and attack of his gazillion solo projects to be daunting, however. I usually feel jazz as some combination of swing and soul, and Garbarek doesn't have much of either -- he soars above his sidemen, praying to some fierce Norse god of melancholy with his horn, and if you're with him on that, his music is great. If not, it's simply grating and monochromatic.
That all said, what makes this album wonderful is both the subdued mood of Garbarek's playing, and the really wonderful excursions of the trio, comprised of an ECM heavy-hitter crew of lyrical, empathic musicians. If you like what Charles Lloyd has done with Bobo Stenson's group, you may like this -- Stenson, Danielsson, and Christensen flow around Garbarek's horn like lucid water, providing Garbarek's pointillistic probing with a broad canvas. Stenson is a fountainhead of improvised melody, and Christianen and Danielsson are as telepathic as ever. (In their own European way, they're as peerless a rhythm section as Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette.) Fans of Keith Jarrett's masterful -- and underappreciated -- "My Song" will find much to celebrate here.
Only for the 90-second long track "Skrik and Hyl" does Garbarek bust out the dentist-drill soprano wails -- what is it that makes his dissonance more painful (to me) than the dissonance of less talented free-jazz players?
But for the most part, this is a moody, swinging ("Dansere"!), meditative trip into golden-age ECM territory.