Haden/Garbarek/Gismonti: Folk Songs (ECM 1170)

 

Folk Songs

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

This scintillating follow-up album to Magico is yet another fine example of ECM’s progressive comings together. Uniting multi-instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti with the instantly recognizable stylings of saxophonist Jan Garbarek and bassist Charlie Haden seems at once a stroke of genius and an inevitable configuration. A blue “Folk Song” sets the tone for all tender considerations that follow, slowly working its motions into a helix of atmospheres. Gismonti stretches out a gorgeous drawl in “Bôdas De Prata.” Within the open bowl of Garbarek’s cupped tenor, he glows like a firefly. The rhythmic acuity of “Cego Aderaldo” is enough to sustain an otherwise languid album. There is something special about the 12-string/sax combination here that recalls the label’s Solstice days and pairs beautifully with “Veien,” which gives us the album’s most reactive moments. Gismonti’s perpetuity, Garbarek’s crystalline phrasings, and Haden’s heartening geometries unify, appropriately enough, in “Equilibrista.” This cradle of rolling piano and melodic overlays falls from its bough in a melodious tumble, landing on its feet for the final word, which comes in the form of “For Turiya,” another ballad-like seesaw of piano and bass resting on the fulcrum of Garbarek’s nocturnal whispers.

Each of these precious musicians has the ability to paint the grandest pictures with the subtlest gestures. This tension of method and effect is at the heart of ECM’s ethos. In such projects, one feels producer Manfred Eicher’s conversational presence and guiding hand, both of which can only illuminate the joys of creation and the sharing thereof.

3 thoughts on “Haden/Garbarek/Gismonti: Folk Songs (ECM 1170)

  1. Passare sopra le mode come un rullo compressore. Assistere con sovrano distacco al degrado della radio. Pulirsi il culo con le recensioni della “stampa specializzata”. Essere Manfred Eicher ha richiesto una caparbia riluttanza verso i compromessi che, però, ha consentito al guru della ECM di concepire e produrre album come Magico e Folk Songs quando della “world music” non esisteva nemmeno la definizione. La spiazzante originalità del trio multi-etnico è illustrata dalla foto di copertina: lo statunitense Charlie Haden (contrabbasso) indossa una giacca da guerrigliero sdrammatizzata dalla penna nel taschino in perfetto stile “nerd”, il brasiliano Egberto Gismonti (chitarre, pianoforte) sembra un rastafari spretato, il norvegese Jan Garbarek (sassofoni) somiglia a Mr. Spock. Accomunati dalla fede nell’improvvisazione, i tre virtuosi fondono i rispettivi stili in un affascinante, inedito linguaggio strumentale. Haden combina i trascorsi “free” con la militanza politica, Gismonti filtra le suggestioni amazzoniche attraverso il vaglio dell’accademia, Garbarek evoca le gelide atmosfere delle latitudini scandinave. La sublime sintesi sonora trascende i limiti formali dei due album, registrati nel 1979 in altrettante sedute (Giugno / Novembre), per diventare pura emozione man mano che l’ascolto procede, tra incanto e stupore (Bailarina, Magico, Spor, Folk Song, Bôdas De Prata, Veien), fino all’immane crescendo espressivo culminante nelle vertiginose melodie di Cego Aderaldo ed Equilibrista.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, David. Words can only do so much. My main purpose in writing is to attempt to evoke what the music feels like for those who haven’t heard it, in the hopes that they will seek it out and experience it for themselves. Reviews can never replace the real thing, and I do not delude myself into thinking mine can do so.

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