Jan Garbarek Quartet
Jan Garbarek tenor and bass saxophones, clarinet, flutes, percussion
Terje Rypdal guitar, bugle
Arild Andersen bass, african thumb piano, xylophone
Jon Christensen percussion
Recorded September 22/23, 1970 at the Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: January 1, 1971
Saxophonist Jan Garbarek has changed with time and age, but already in Afric Pepperbird, his first album for ECM and one that would instigate an unbreakable association with the label, he invites us into a world that is playful yet mature. Half of the album is made up of miniatures, “Skarabée” and “Mah-Jong” the most precise and delicate among them, laced as they are with drummer Jon Christensen’s distinctive cymbal work and overall compositional sensibility. “MYB” and “Concentus,” for their part, drop like seeds into the album’s fertile soil. Bassist Arild Andersen’s steady bass line assures us the title track can swing with confidence, pouring on Saharan charm like fresh honey, while “Blow Away Zone” features an adventurous Terje Rypdal on guitar and an ether-wrenching solo from Garbarek, who squeezes his way through an opaque tornado of bass and drums. Clocking in at twelve-and-a-half minutes is “Beast Of Kommodo,” a rewarding romp of gargantuan proportions. Garbarek gives his all, mixing roars with fluted reveries with equal conviction. The set bows out with “Blupp,” a smile-inducing froth of percussion and vocals that doesn’t so much describe its title as demonstrate it.
This may very well be, along with Witchi-Tai-To, the quintessential Garbarek album for those who normally don’t care for his style. Whatever your taste in jazz, whatever your opinion on Garbarek and the label he calls home, this is a spirited and robust effort worthy of your attention.