Jan Garbarek: Paths, Prints (ECM 1223)

 

Jan Garbarek
Paths, Prints

Jan Garbarek tenor and soprano saxophones, wood flutes, percussion
Bill Frisell guitar
Eberhard Weber bass
Jon Christensen drums, percussion
Recorded December 1981, Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

December of 1981 was a magical month for ECM, producing such treasures as Psalm and Opening Night. On Paths, Prints, however, Manfred Eicher raised the bar yet again in bringing together another of his unique dream teams. Jan Garbarek, Bill Frisell, Eberhard Weber, and Jon Christensen in the same studio? Engineering complexities aside, one need only have hit Record, taken a nap, and awoken to masterful results. Throughout this session, Garbarek’s sharply defined reveries prove the perfect fulcrum for Frisell’s broadly sweeping clock hands. Garbarek also exposes a softer side, as in the whispered edges of “The Path” and “Arc,” and in the seesawing contours of “Still.” The painterly movements of “Kite Dance,” on the other hand, foreground Weber’s globules of sound against the blush and heartwarming soloing of Frisell’s omnipresent guitar. Not too far behind are “Footprints,” which shows Christensen in an especially colorful mood, and “The Move,” which pours on Garbarek’s signature lilt like heavy cream. Certainly his most effective passages are also the most intimate: “Considering The Snail” and “To B.E.,” the latter a duet with Frisell, are concave, while their surroundings are convex.

One can easily fall into the trap of painting ECM jazz as forlorn, breezy, and overwhelmingly lonesome. Yet one journey through Paths, Prints is all it takes to realize that the music is always our companion.

3 thoughts on “Jan Garbarek: Paths, Prints (ECM 1223)

  1. This album will always be particularly special to me, because my wife and I saw much of this (and much more, of course) performed live in Boston at a small, intimate club called Jonathon Livingston Seagull – soon after this was released. The one difference was that the percussionist for the live date was Michael di Pasqua (of Double Image).

    No matter…..from Garbarek’s magical swoops on his array of saxes (I’ve always loved his tenor work, which became rarer and rarer with each album) and wood flutes, to Weber’s haunting, fluid solid body stand up bass……a remarkable experience. This was a coming out of sorts for Frisell, as well – he was not yet widely recorded, yet played his guitar in quite a unique way – his chord washes literally breathing into and around the music, providing color and mystery. I do wish I could remember the set list – but of course, the song titles are not overly relevant to this sort of music. The song titles appear to each of us individually in how we experience and decode what we hear.

    It was actually closer to the first stage of a long journey – my long journey with the music on ECM, which continues to this day. And Paths, Prints still gets a regular turn in our house, its music wonderful and deep and timeless – and essential.

    1. This is beautiful, Craig. An experience to live by. Part of me wishes I’d been around for some of those performances, while another part of me feels blessed to have encountered such music in any form. An album to be cultivated and shared.

  2. I too caught a live concert by the quartet (with Mike Dipasqua) on the supporting tour for this album. I love Dipasqua-and got a chance to speak with him after the concert. But I love Jon Christensen so much that I was still disappointed that he wasn’t in the band anymore at this point. This quartet lineup with Dipasqua was the group that recorded the follow up album “Wayfarer” by the way.
    I am a major Eberhard Weber fan and was thrilled that they also played the opening track “Last Stage of a Long Journey” from Weber’s “Little Movements” album-with Bill Frisell playing the piano part on guitar (still wish I had a recording of that). This was the concert where Dipasqua mentioned to me that he had just recorded the album with bassist Adelhard Roidinger that sent me searching for that release over the next year or so until I found that one as an import. ECM never released it officially in the USA. Little did I know that the Roidinger album would become one of my very favorite ECM’s of all time.
    To me the real highpoint of this album is the 10-plus minute second track “Footprints” with Garbarek’s wonderful wood flues and hand percussion playing before it builds up to where his saxophone comes in. The mood, composition, and build up all makes that track a career high point for Garbarek in my humble opinion.

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