Keith Jarrett piano
Jan Garbarek tenor and soprano saxophones
Palle Danielsson bass
Jon Christensen drums
Recorded April 24 and 25, 1974 at Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
From beginning to end we are treated to a mélange of moods in this, the first effort from Keith Jarrett and his European quartet. Compositionally astute and clearly the work of steadied hands, Belonging finds each musician in fine form. Whether it is Garbarek’s punctilious doubling in the buoyant “Spiral Dance,” Danielsson’s mellifluous bass solo in “Blossom,” or Christensen’s rollicking snare in “The Windup,” everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Jarrett’s fingerwork is, of course, superb throughout, but it is the energy underlying his playing—the very spirit of his pianism—that really seems to drive things forward. The album is zigzagged, fading adeptly from head-shaking abandon to heavy darkness from one cut to the next. Ballads make up the longest passages on Belonging and seem to turn ever inward within the confines of their own emotional borders. For the most part, sax and piano are explicitly unified, as if trekking on either side of the same divide, although sometimes they seem to look in opposite directions, as if involved in a long-running debate, unsure of whether reconciliation can be had in the throes of so much dialogue. Jarrett’s jilted approach is well suited to these down-tempo moments while the bass gently asserts its tremulous presence in the background. Garbarek’s sudden entrances weave a dense stratosphere of brassy elegance. “’Long As You Know You’re Living Yours” is pure Jarrett and provides Garbarek with plenty of space to run amok with his screeching serenade. The title cut is another ballad, this one of a different shade than the rest; not an alleyway, but a brief lapse into self-pity. As the album’s center, it also encapsulates a core theme: this music evokes a past from which one cannot escape or, more positively, simply a sense of belonging as the title would imply, the inescapability of one’s roots in place and time. Overall, this is an essential example of what ECM can do when it throws a handful of singular talents into a studio.