Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
In Praise of Dreams
Genres: Jazz, New Age
Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek cut his teeth emulating John Coltrane and blowing gales through the muscular compositions of George Russell and open improvisations of Keith Jarrett. But since the mid 1980s, the saxophon... more »
Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek cut his teeth emulating John Coltrane and blowing gales through the muscular compositions of George Russell and open improvisations of Keith Jarrett. But since the mid 1980s, the saxophonist has been making an increasingly rarefied and composed music full of chords suspended in space, harmonies echoing in gothic recesses, and always, wrenching saxophone melodies. In Praise of Dreams is his latest foray into a music that reaches for the mystical. With just Garbarek, some keyboard pads, light percussion from Manu Katché and haunting viola by Kim Kashkashian, In Praise of Dreams is instrumentally sparse, yet deep in emotion and atmosphere. Based mostly on rhythm loops, there's a hypnotic trance quality to Garbarek's compositions, but also a tinge of nostalgia with Kashkashian's wistful violin. You could be in a mediaeval stave church in Norway or a Parisian café circa 1890. Atop it all are Garbarek's saxophones. He builds many of his improvisations off Kashkashian's viola, echoing her melody lines, then spiraling off with his keening soprano saxophone hailing lamentations like a rainstorm and his tenor calling out in a torrent of emotion barely leashed. This isn't a jazz album in the traditional sense, but a tone poem of memory and dreams. --John Diliberto
Integrating a career and distilling new joy
Bob | Michigan's thumb, US | 10/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had not intended to join in the flock of reviews, but I really want to make sure that no potential listener is put off by the few negative remarks. This is not "smooth jazz" or MOR classical/world beat. "De gustibus non disputandum", tastes are unarguable perhaps, but dispute I nonetheless must. This is my single "desert island" CD, and I don't say that lightly. The interplay between Kashkashian on viola and Garbarek on sax brings together two great currents of music, the "classical" compositional with improvisational jazz. The dialogue between the viola and the tenor sax are amazing in the closeness of their ... their ... is it tone? Texture? Timbre? I'm not fluent in the terms of musical description, but certainly I listen, and say to myself, "Here comes the sax!" only to realize a moment later that it is Kashkashian's viola.
The sound is often mournful, but not sad; it's uplifting. It is a clear sound, although Garbarek's usual coldness is tempered by the viola. The sax-viola duets are augmented by gentle keyboard work as well as a great performance by the drummer, Manu Katche, who has to be mentioned. He builds patterns that go a long way to providing a framework for the music.
Garbarek has had other opportunities to improvise over classical compositional structures - most famously, his lovely sessions with the Hilliard Ensemble, but he also joined on the CD "Monodia", where Tigran Mansurian composed expressly for Kashkashian and him. But here, on "In Praise of Dreams", Garbarek is both composer/arranger and improviser, and this CD gives him the opportunity to emphasize his strengths in composition. His strengths here are remarkable.
If you are looking for the soulful jazz sax in the sparse Nordic tradition of Garbarek's earlier work, you will still find it here - although the context may seem odd. But this is not MOR, nor world beat, nor a commercial sellout by an aging artist. This is an artist integrating the experience of a lifetime in music, and finding something new to synthesize from it all. I wish long life to Mr. Garbarek, and more opportunities to distill wisdom from his years. For anyone who has a love for the great traditions of western music, this disc is one great joy.
Ambient Jazz Dreams
Winslow Bunny | Rockledge, Florida United States | 11/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Right up front, I don't know a whole lot about Jan Gabarek, how long he's been around, his body of work, or if this album is typical of his musical style or not. I know more about jazz in general than Jan Gabarek in particular. I heard Mr. Gabarek's "In Praise of Dreams" on "Echoes," and was significantly impressed enough to purchase the album. I am not disappointed with what I have heard beyond the title song, either; the songs range musically from a lazy flow of ambience to a catchy, urgent upbeat to slower,somewhat darker music - kind of like the nature of our dreams, the full range. I enjoyed this album and if you enjoy the NPR program "Echoes," I believe that you will, too."
Brilliant, regardless of "category"
WSM | Lubbock, TX | 11/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Must Jazz be inaccessible to find critical praise?
This is an amazing album that is more lyrical and
moving than most of Jan's ECM work. Those who label
this effort smooth jazz are way off the mark!"