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Jan Garbarek: Visible World

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: ECM Records
Released: 1996
Category: Jazz
Producer(s): Manfred Eicher
Rating: ********** (10/10)
Media type: CD
Web address: www.ecmrecords.com
Appears with: Keith Jarrett, Eberhard Weber
Purchase date: 1997
Price in €: 16,99

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] Red Wind (J.Garvabrek) - 3:52
[2] Creek (J.Garvabrek) - 4:30
[3] Survivor (J.Garvabrek) - 4:46
[4] Healing Smoke (J.Garvabrek) - 7:13
[5] Visible World [Chiaro] (J.Garvabrek) - 4:07
[6] Desolate Mountains I (J.Garvabrek) - 6:46
[7] Desolate Mountains II (J.Garvabrek) - 6:02
[8] Visible World [Scu-Ro] (J.Garvabrek) - 4:32
[9] Giulietta (J.Garvabrek) - 3:45
[10] Desolate Mountains III (J.Garvabrek) - 1:28
[11] Pygmy Lullaby (J.Garvabrek/Traditional) - 6:12
[12] Quest (J.Garvabrek) - 2:58
[13] Arrow (J.Garvabrek) - 4:21
[14] Scythe (J.Garvabrek) - 1:48
[15] Evening Land (J.Garvabrek) - 12:29

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

Jan Garbarek - Soprano & Tenor Saxophones, Clarinet, Keyboards, Percussion

Rainer Bruninghaus - Piano, Synthesizer
Eberhard Weber - Bass
Marilyn Mazur - Drums, Shakers, Percussion
Manu Katché - Drums
Trilok Gurtu - Tablas, Spiral
Mari Boine - Vocals

Trilok Gurtu - Engineer
Jan Erik Kongshaug - Engineer
Jan Jedlička - Engineer
Barbara Wojirsch - Cover Design

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

1996 CD ECM 21585
1996 CS ECM 21585
2000 CD ECM 529086

Recorded at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway in June 1995.

For over a quarter-century, saxophonist Jan Garbarek's ECM discography has subdivided itself into two main streams. There are ensemble albums documenting the music of his own group, and experimental projects with musicians of other cultures and backgrounds. Of the later category, Jan's 1994 collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble entitled "Officium", brought his unique qualities to a vast new audience. Influenced both by the evolution of his own group and his diverse work with others, "Visible World" encapsulates the breadth of Jan's musical experience in his most beautiful recording to date. Jan performs most of the instrumental parts himself, playing tenor and soprano saxophone, clarinet, keyboards, and percussion. He is joined both by members of the popular Jan Garbarek Group, as well as new associations who are invited to contribute to specific pieces. The stellar cast includes pianist Rainer Brüninghaus, bassist Eberhard Weber, percussionist Marilyn Mazur, and drummer Manu Katché with tabla master Tilok Gurtu, and vocalist Mari Boine. The group's sound is lean with a strong and supple rhythmic foundation primed for the saxophonist's embellishments.

from ECM Homepage

Apart from David Sanborn, probably no living saxophonist has a more instantly recognizable voice than Jan Garbarek; actually, given the fact that Sanborn's sound is so widely copied, Garbarek's may be easier to identify in a blindfold test. This album in particular puts that sound front and center. Garbarek's the show; he composed all of the music, and is essentially the only soloist. The music (much of which was composed as soundtrack material for film or video) is quintessential Garbarek, full of the world music influences that have characterized his work since the 1970s. Garbarek's resonant, carefully articulated tenor and soprano tone suits the spacious, minor/modal themes. He's as much a singer as instrumentalist. Garbarek also plays digital synthesizers, mostly as string or flute pads underneath the folkish melodies. The record's most notable secondary player is Garbarek's ECM labelmate, the bassist Eberhard Weber, whose lyric sensibility is a virtual mirror of Garbarek's. This is quiet, contemplative music for the most part -- attractive, but not superficially pretty. Its grooves are less celebratory than melancholic. There's an intensity here borne of deep concentration and commitment to beauty. Garbarek has come a long way since his early days as a quasi-free jazz experimentalist. This music is not jazz, nor is it experimental. But it is compelling in its way, representative of a first-rate creative musician, beyond category.

Chris Kelsey - All Music Guide

Eigentlich hatte Jan Garbarek die Themen seiner neuen CD für Filme komponiert. Vielleicht sind sie deshalb weniger weltabgewandt als sonst und eher der Realität als den unsichtbaren Innenwelten zugehörig. Die mystischen Saxophonklänge werden perkussiver als auf früheren CDs eingerahmt. Der Spezialist für dunkel schnurrende Bässe, Eberhard Weber, spielt um Nuancen kraftvoller, und zudem bringen Garbarek und Rainer Brüninghaus flächige Synthesizerklänge ins Spiel. Dennoch fehlt es der Scheibe am inneren Halt.

© Audio

Was der Titel andeutet, untermauern die ersten vier Stücke exemplarisch: Mit "Visible World" gibt sich Jan Garbarek bildhaft wie selten zuvor. Der Schweiger aus dem Norden hat vielleicht noch nie eine so zugängliche Musik eingespielt: Das fließt in klaren, fast poppigen Strukturen dahin, durchstrahlt von üppiger Saxofonmelodik, gebettet auf die Klangteppiche des Bassisten Eberhard Weber und des Keyboarders Rainer Brüninghaus, in Bewegung gebracht von den luftig-federnen Rhythmen Marilyn Mazurs, Manu Katchés und Trilok Gurtus. Wenn, wie Garbarek sagt, Bilder ausschlaggebend für die Entstehung dieses Materials waren, dann bietet sich das Werk Emil Noldes zum Vergleich an: farbenprächtig, schön, eindringlich. Und vertraut klingt es dazu: Ist's nur eine Täuschung, oder ähnelt "The Creek" etwa dem "Brother Wind March" aus dem Garbarek-album "Awelve Moons"? Erinnert "The Survivor" nicht entfernt an Mark Knopflers Filmmusik "Local Hero"? Und "Pygmy Lullaby" variiert eventuell dieselbe afrikanische Melodie wie der Deep-Forest-Hit "Sweet Lullaby". Ab Titel 5 wird Garbareks Musik wagemutiger, tiefgründiger - vor allem im Finale "Evening Land" mit der Gaststimme Mari Boine. Den Tönen könnte in der Malerei das grafische Werk Alberto Giacomettis gegenüberstehen: kühne Phantasien, den Geist anregend, die Sinne beflügelnd. ** Interpret.: 08-09 ** Klang.: 09-10

© Stereoplay

Everyone has their own favourite landmarks in the Jan Garbarek catalogue, from the pungent neo-Americanism of the early Afric Pepperbird to the more recent collaborations with the early music vocal group the Hilliard Ensemble. Along the way, Garbarek has explored the folk music of his native Norway, the Aeolian harp and much else besides, but the common thread is his own peculiarly phraseless saxophone style, which seems to deal in extended structural arcs rather than conventional jazz licks. Drawing as it does upon non-jazz aesthetics, Garbarek's melancholy, elemental sound has almost become a school in itself (even if he is its only member) and on this recording, less rarefied and austere than much of his output and perhaps the most easily returnable-to of his many albums, he deploys this in a variety of contexts. "The Creek", for example, is a beautiful and uplifting folkish melody which nevertheless sits perfectly happily against a backdrop of clicky drums and whooshy pads. Newcomers should certainly start here.

Roger Thomas -  Amazon.co.uk

This 1995 release followed closely on the heels of the enormously successful Officium, Jan Garbarek's meditative collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble. The same tranquil aesthetic prevails on this release, but the methods and materials differ. Garbarek opts here for the recording studio over the monastery, building up many of the tracks himself with percussion and keyboards as well as the keening, resonant sounds of his soprano and tenor saxes. His compositions emphasize folk-like melodies and ethereal soundscapes, and there's effective work from pianist Rainer Brüninghaus and bassist Eberhard Weber. The often-dramatic percussion from Marilyn Mazur, Manu Katché, and Trilok Gurtu adds ceremonial and world-music touches to some superior work in the New Age genre.

Stuart Broomer -  Amazon.com

"Dadurch, daß Garbarek bei vielen Stücken seine statischen Saxofoneinsätze mit Electronics, Keyboard und Percussion erweitert, ergeben sich Stimmungsbilder einer wundersamen Reise. Körperlich erfahrbare, kunstvolle Sound-Skulpturen."

G. Filtgen in Stereo 6/96

3.5 Stars - Good/Very Good - "...VISIBLE WORLD showcases Garbarek's mastery of dramatic moods and spectral atmospheres rather than his improvisational skills....VISIBLE WORLD's appeal lies in its lonesome melodies and evocative moods..."

Down Beat 10/96, pp.48-49

"...the dreamy, impressionistic sound of film music, which is in fact where most of these pieces originated....pretty, folk-like melodies performed with a New Age sheena and with a notable paucity of improvisation....mood pieces--spooky, wistful and easy on the ear."

JazzTimes 9/96, pp.97-98

4 Stars - Excellent - "...chocker with hummable tunes, strong rhythms and a general air of accessibility....his saxwork is as distinctive as ever--often one note is all it takes to recognise him..."

Q Magazine 7/96, p.110

"The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art"

It's far too easy to pigeonhole Jan Garbarek as some Nordic visionary, whose keening tones echo around the desolate bleakness of distant fjords. There's no doubt that a sparseness informs his best work, like the album 'Dis', where Garbarek improvises over the random sounds of a windharp to create a vision of a world of cold and darkness lit by moments of rare intensity. Equally, he is one of the most successful composers to adapt the heart of folk melody to extend his own voice, rather than simply plunder it for catchy tunes. And of course, he is probably best known outside jazz circles for his crossover work with the Hilliard Ensemble, on the album 'Officium', as a proto-ambient, New Age performer. "There is a world music consisting of everything you hear. It's all there in the ether, in the air, all the waves. It's folk music from all over the world, classical, rock, pop, everything. There is no pure musical mind anymore... even if one tries to stay pure to something, it's just not possible." As always with a great musician - a great artist - the truth is more complex. Garbarek is one of the few saxophonists who has taken the lessons of Parker, and more importantly, Coltrane, and gone in a different direction to find his own inner voice. In this sense, 'Officium' is an aberration to Garbarek's oeuvre: his is not a music for the background of middle-class dinner parties. Rather, like that of Keith Jarrett, with whom Garbarek worked so successfully in the pianist's European Quartet, this is a music of transcendence, of spirituality and celebration. Quite simply, it demands - and repays - the closest attention. "There's an area where humans can relate to music, to rhythm and melody and harmony, all of which is of course the basis of folk music." 'Visible World', the latest episode in Garbarek's voyage, marks no great departure from works like 'Twelve Moons' and 'It's Okay To Listen To The Gray Voice', in the sense that it maintains a quest for intensity of expression through simplicity of melody and subtlety of rhythm. These pieces are fragments that move against each other, brush past, are gone and then return. It's an interesting exercise to see how playing the two pieces called 'Visible World' and the three sections of 'Desolate Mountains' as unified pieces rather than as in the album's running order reduces their impact, pulls them further back towards 'jazz'. This is not to suggest that Garbarek's pieces do not stand up in their own right but rather that part of his aesthetic lies in the nature of collision, of juxtaposition, of the ironies inherent in the notion that everything lies in the ether, in the waves. Everything depends on how we tune our receivers, the frequencies we frequent. "With Garbarek, every note and every phrase is not only meant, but also given the full weight of feeling; there is no rhetoric but only the poetry of composition-in-motion which is what true improvisation always is." As always, Garbarek has give intense thought to his choice of musical companions . Eberhard Weber and Rainer Brüninghaus play superbly throughout, always following Garbarek's lead, keeping the rhythm of the piece as an ever-moving pulse, alive and sinuous. Marilyn Mazur and Manu Katché add delicate counterpoint to the saxophone as it moves lightly across the flow of each piece. Listen to 'The Arrow', where the percussive work adds an underlying tone of menace to Gabarek's keening voice. Or to 'The Creek', a truly magnificent example of Garbarek's lyric writing. If this is a music of melancholy, it is also a music of redemption and transfiguration. If you only buy one album this year, make it this one.

ECM 1585
Tom Callaghan.

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