Jan Garbarek: Places (ECM 1118)

ECM 1118b

Jan Garbarek

Jan Garbarek saxophones
Bill Connors guitar
John Taylor organ, piano
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded December 1977 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Places brings together another congregation of musicians that could only come from ECM. Drummer Jack DeJohnette lassoes his scurrying loops to the acoustic hooks of guitarist Bill Connors, while John Taylor supplements most of the cargo with organ. At the helm of this vessel is Jan Garbarek, whose saxophonism starts high and goes only higher. With cumulative notecraft and a heartfelt commitment to atmosphere, he and Taylor unwrap a lush nexus in the stunning opener. The occasional harmonic falls like a dandelion seed onto this pool of night as cymbals splash all around us. Taylor weaves a fine spread, anchoring us with sustained bass lines and attentive chording, leaving Garbarek to seal every crack with his sonic caulk. Connors seeks to light his surroundings, striking at the flint with his percussive gesticulations in hopes that one spark might show the way. Garbarek sharpens himself with arid flavor and carves out a miniature oasis in the crumbling image of exotic desire. The organ weaves in and out like a halo circumscribing us with subtle urgency until it pulls us beyond the point of no return, where dwells only silence in these “Reflections.” We then find the organ “Entering” into an electric guitar embrace. Bass and drums give us footholds where we might not expect to find them. Thus, what began as an elegy turns into a far-reaching journey that is over too soon. But in the next track we’re still “Going Places,” spurred by DeJohnette’s steady pulse and Garbarek’s hidden thermals. The energy comes in waves, subsiding here for a guitar solo and swelling there at Garbarek’s call. “Passing” ends where the album began, in a fluid ostinato of organ over which Connors looses his wavering song. Garbarek draws an ascendant pattern between those quiet strings, lifting us to an arena in which age curls into a semblance of time.

For anyone who wished Aftenland had a beat, this one’s for you.

<< John Abercrombie: Characters (ECM 1117)
>> Gary Peacock: December Poems (ECM 1119)

2 thoughts on “Jan Garbarek: Places (ECM 1118)

  1. On my first visit to a London jazz club in the mid 1950s, a New Orleans revivalist band was playing, and I became an instant jazz fan.
    Of the numerous developments and musicians I’ve heard since then, none in my opinion, matches Jan Garbarek at his inventive, subtle best.
    But here’s the rub. He’s also erratic and inconsistent, he pushes boundaries, takes risks; and this, unsurprisingly, sometimes shows him at his worst.
    Of the 11 Garbarek albums in my collection, almost all are blemished in some way, with the exception of the album ‘Places’. The tracks ‘Reflections, Entering’ and especially ‘Passing’ (with its stunningly beautiful, sensitive guitar solos from Bill Connors), are beyond brilliant. ‘Going Places’ doesn’t quite make it, due to several harsh passages. I can listen to the other three tracks over and over, hearing, as if for the first time, an inflection, pause, chord change; and never tire of listening. Highly recommended.

  2. I keep going back to listen to the whole album every few months. It’s indeed the entire journey that takes place in a subconscious level and when I come out, I keep hearing the emotional screams of Jan Garbarek saxophone, the beautiful and truly classic melodies of Bill Connors guitar, the weaving melancholic chords of John Taylor organ, and incredible expressions of drums and beautifully blending cymbals of Jack Dejohnette.
    It is a timeless experience … perhaps … in places.

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