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.