Keith Jarrett piano, percussion
Jan Garbarek tenor and soprano saxophones
Palle Danielsson bass
Jon Christensen drums
Recorded November 1977 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
From the moment we step into the transport of Keith Jarrett’s European quartet, we know we are in for a comforting ride filled with lush scenery and temperate climes. “Questar” opens this set of six Jarrett originals by unfolding a melodic altar for the saxophonic offerings of Jan Garbarek, who trades prime invocations with Jarrett in a formula that pervades the rest of the album to great success. The gorgeous title track, in which we encounter a slightly mournful but always majestic invocation, widens the music’s embrace. Garbarek’s pleasing yet incisive tone works wonders and continues to lead the way in “Tabarka,” where nostalgia shares its berth with the dripping shadows of resolution, and which protects the Michael Naura-like buoyancy of “Country” like a dome over Palle Danielsson’s wonderful solo on bass.
Jarrett cultivates the talents of his fellow musicians in a garden rife with unique hybrids. While his left hand is firmly rooted in the soil of his rhythm section, his right seems to frolic in the rain that nourishes it, changing from liquid to gas and back to liquid in a perpetual cycle of self-renewal. He comes across as nothing less than perfection, sharing in this democratic spread of passion. The colorful scatterings of his solo in “Mandala,” for example, are made all the more so for the fantastic rhythm section backing him every step of the way. As Jarrett peaks with intensity, Garbarek arches his back like a sun flare, a whip cracking silently through time-space in slow motion, giving us an aftertaste of the Norwegian reedman at his early best. During another rich bass solo, Jarrett plucks the strings inside his piano as if to defuse the epiphany. After this palpable spurt of energy, “The Journey Home” breathes a sigh of relief and provides the album’s most gorgeous turns from Jarrett. Fluid as his song, his voice basks in the sunshine. Not to be outdone, Garbarek matches this elegiac acuity, at last fading into brushed cymbals.
The music of Keith Jarrett was already highly sustainable long before the concept became an obligatory buzzword. With My Song he brings that personal ecology in fullest force. Garbarek hardly sounds better than he does alongside the discerning piano man, and is here soulful, restrained, consolatory but also insistent, and never afraid to let loose once in a while. These are musicians bound by trust, which they express with every pellucid turn of phrase they utter on an album that represents one of ECM’s most stunning dates of the seventies.