Jan Garbarek – In Praise of Dreams
Jan Garbarek (born 4 March 1947) is a Norwegian tenor and soprano saxophonist, active in the jazz, classical, and world music genres. Garbarek was born in Mysen, Norway, the only child of a former Polish prisoner of war Czeslaw Garbarek and a Norwegian farmer’s daughter.
Effectively stateless until the age of seven (there was no automatic grant of citizenship in Norway at that time) Garbarek grew up in Oslo. At 21, he married Vigdis. He is the father of musician (vocals), and composer Anja Garbarek.
Garbarek’s sound is one of the hallmarks of the ECM Records label, which has released virtually all of his recordings. His style incorporates a sharp-edged tone, long, keening, sustained notes, and generous use of silence.
He began his recording career in the late 1960s, notably featuring on recordings by the American jazz composer George Russell (such as Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature).
If he had initially appeared as a devotee of Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann, by 1973 he had turned his back on the harsh dissonances of avant-garde jazz, retaining only his tone from his previous approach.
Garbarek gained wider recognition through his work with pianist Keith Jarrett’s European Quartet which released the albums Belonging (1974), My Song (1977) and the live recordings Personal Mountains (1979), and Nude Ants (1979). He was also a featured soloist on Jarrett’s orchestral works Luminessence (1974) and Arbour Zena (1975).
As a composer, Garbarek tends to draw heavily from Scandinavian folk melodies, a legacy of his Ayler influence. He is also a pioneer of ambient jazz composition, most notably on his 1976 album Dis a collaboration with guitarist Ralph Towner that featured the distinctive sound of a wind harp on several tracks.
This textural approach, which rejects traditional notions of thematic improvisation (best exemplified by Sonny Rollins) in favour of a style described by critics Richard Cook and Brian Morton as “sculptural in its impact”, has been critically divisive.
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