Miroslav Vitous/Jan Garbarek: Atmos (ECM 1475)

 

Miroslav Vitous
Atmos

Miroslav Vitous double-bass
Jan Garbarek soprano and tenor saxophones
Recorded February 1992 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

For me, Jan Garbarek excels in his more intimate and intensely collaborative settings, and this date with Miroslav Vitous makes for some fine synergy indeed. Vitous takes light steps, if with heavy intent, through the introductory “Pegasos.” Garbarek, meanwhile, is content in hanging his throaty songs from high rafters. Like its eponymous animal, this music and all that follows is a mythic blend of strength and finesse, joining feathery appendages to a robust body that soars wherever it may. “Goddess” treads more carefully and seems to regress even as it grows, achieving a balance of proportion between body and mind, transcending the plains even as it plants its feet to the earth’s core. Vitous elicits some lovely percussiveness here, drumming his bass to send Garbarek on a lyrical scouting journey. The rhythmic ruminations continue in “Forthcoming,” giving the saxophonist all the inspiration he needs to dig deep and pluck out the ponderous jewel that is the title track. Here we encounter some beautiful thoughts from soprano, threading the ever-growing loom of Vitous’s strings. A captivating track that takes a delicate swing of its melodic compass into a direction of utter stillness. Unfortunately, “Time Out” (Parts I and II) detracts from the album’s tender atmosphere. Its horn-blasted interjections are grossly out of place. In between them, however, is “Dirvision,” a heart-tugging solo from Vitous that precludes two meditative numbers to close.

All in all, despite a brief misstep, a fascinating and worthy excursion from two far-reaching talents. How fortuitous to have them both here, telling stories timeless and sincere.

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