Haden/Garbarek/Gismonti: Magico (ECM 1151)

 

Charlie Haden
Jan Garbarek
Egberto Gismonti
Magico

Charlie Haden bass
Jan Garbarek saxophones
Egberto Gismonti guitars, piano
Recorded June 1979 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Along with the work of CODONA, Magico is perhaps a forerunner in what would come to be known as “world music,” and a pinnacle among ECM’s fruitful productions of the 1970s. Although the talents assembled could hardly be more geographically disparate, their musical heartbeats trace the same calm graph across the EKG paper that is our appreciation. What appears a modest effort in number (the group gives us a humble quintet) plies massive depths in execution. The tracks “Bailarina” and “Silence” alone comprise more than half of the album’s duration. The former’s graceful arcs and burnished veneer sparkle with understated virtuosity, while the latter features some of the gentlest relays between Garbarek and Haden alongside Gismonti’s frothy pianism. The jangly guitar of the title track guides us confidently through Garbarek’s incisive overlay before Gismonti switches over to classical on through “Spor.” Haden’s unassuming posture yields its darkest colors here, drawing a thick arco line beneath our feet just as we are about to fall. Where the album began in a blur, with “Palhaço” it ends in rounded focus, rendered portrait-like in pastels of agreement.

A companion album to the later Folk Songs, this is an all too easily overlooked soundtrack to a beautiful life, brimming with passions of the quietest kind. Like its title, it is a little piece of wonder wrapped in an enigma too real to deny.

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