Garbarek/Vitous/Erskine: StAR (ECM 1444)

 

StAR

Jan Garbarek soprano and tenor saxophones
Miroslav Vitous double-bass
Peter Erskine drums
Recorded January 1991 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

StAR is yet another classic from a fertile period for Jan Garbarek. Clothed in some of Barbara Wojirsch’s most striking typography, it holds an intimate portrait of one of ECM’s profoundest artists. Characteristic trails fade in the title track like infant spiders’ webs as bassist Miroslav Vitous dances a solemn dance. Garbarek unlocks a doorway in the sky, where the only keyhole is a star, before teleporting back to earth to find his roots in “Jumper.” The scatting syncopation here draws us into a vocal world. “Lamenting” begins with a keen from Garbarek and Vitous filled with such beauty that every tear in its vision changes into hopeful light, sketched into life by Erskine’s pastel accents and Garbarek’s distinctly burnished tenor. From scintinllating beginnings, “Anthem” purrs with snare rolls from Erskine, backgrounding a celestial wash. “Roses For You” takes its first timid steps widely and innocently in the bass, Garbarek again showing unique sensitivity, born of attention and experience. He flips slowly through an album of love and loss in equal measure, cradling it in a hand smooth with youth and turning pages with fingers wrinkled with age. “Clouds In The Mountain” brings us to the album’s most spirited territory, fluttering like eyelashes into the sun’s glare. “Snowman,” on the other hand, is a dose of wintry whimsy, cracked like an egg by some mystical overdubbing. “The Music Of My People” ends with a lovely homage to the inspirations of a saxophonist who has done so much to expand the art from the sea into the fjords, and beyond.

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