Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jan Garbarek - Eventyr


Eventyr means “adventure.” Classical listeners may also recognize it as the name of Frederick Delius’s lovely 1917 tone poem, which is often translated as “Once Upon A Time” to underscore its origins in the folk tale collections of Norwegian scholar Peter Christen Asbjørnsen. Here, the name adorns one of Jan Garbarek’s most recondite efforts to date and, like its own “Once Upon A Time,” houses a world of lessons and signs for those willing enough to interpret them. Joined by John Abercrombie and Nana Vasconcelos, he spins a string of seven improvisations, rounded out by a standard, “East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon” (Brooks Bowman), that doesn’t so much end the album as open us to its nebulous center. In that center we encounter swirls of majesty as only he can draw. With almost liquid fire and ever-insightful phrasing, Garbarek brings his deepest considerations to the nearly 12-minute “Sora Maria” that is its primordial soup. His interplay with Abercrombie resolves into a vague continent, where only the playful refractions of “Lillekort” resolve themselves into separate entities. Vasconcelos’s pliancy is the animating skeleton of the title track, in which his gravelly voice and ritualism exudes from every gamelan hit. In “Weaving A Garland,” tenor sax and guitar paint a rolling horizon of vegetation. Such shorter tracks as this and “The Companion” comprise the more potent incantations amid the long-form spells that otherwise dictate the album’s vocabulary. Transcendence comes in the form of “Snipp, Snapp, Snute,” a sparkling menagerie of triangles and wooden flute that works its light into a crepuscular sky. Through it we see in fine detail the inner life of three musicians whose nets run far into the cosmic ocean, where only transformation awaits in the catch. - ECM review

Eventyr literally means adventure. It is a name associated with various Scandinavian fairy tales. These stories have inspired musicians going back to at least 1917 with Frederick Delius' orchestral composition by the same title. The mythos of the title isn't lost on Jan Garbarek, a musician well-steeped in regional culture. Garbarek succeeds in creating his own musical adventure with "Eventyr." 'Soria Maria' opens the album with Garbarek's signature sound. Hovering over an ambient soundscape, Garbarek's saxophone sounds like a zurna, reminiscing an Islamic prayer. In the upbeat 'Lillekort,' Nana Vasconcelos lays down a groove using the traps and what sounds like an udu. On the other hand, the title track drifts into a fantasy world complete with animal sounds and a set of orchestral bells. In this song, Garbarek employs a creative use of various aerophones. Like coming home to a warm hearth after a long journey, 'Weaving A Garland' is a comforting return to composition and melody. Alas, the traveler can not rest for long in "Eventyr" since the mystical enterprise continues with 'Once Upon A Time.' Maintaining an other-worldly soundscape, Vasconcelos plays berimbau on 'The Companion.' 'Snipp, Snapp, Snute' is pure enchantment. With 'East Of The Sun And West Of The Moon,' our journey ends on a dark note. The meandering composition ends with ethereal vocals that suggest the voices of mythical creatures. While leaving the wildwoods for the last time, these eerie voices wish the traveler farewell. With respect to John Abercrombie, he tends to play on the periphery, using his guitar to create atmosphere. Unlike other Garbarek releases from the 1980's, this never crossed the line into becoming new age. Playing real jazz, "Eventyr" features Garbarek's trademark sound of exotically inspired minimalism. Thanks to Jan Garbarek and his travel companions, "Eventyr" is a musical journey well-worth taking. - by The Delite Ranchet, Amazon.com

Artist: Jan Garbarek
Album: Eventyr
Year: 1980
Label: ECM (1981)
Runtime: 56:20

Tracks:
1.  Sonia Maria (Jan Garbarek/John Abercrombie/Nana Vasconselos) 11:41
2.  Lillekort (Jan Garbarek/John Abercrombie/Nana Vasconselos) 5:04
3.  Eventyr (Jan Garbarek/John Abercrombie/Nana Vasconselos) 9:22
4.  Weaving A Garland (Traditional) 2:22
5.  Once Upon A Time (Jan Garbarek/John Abercrombie/Nana Vasconselos) 9:05
6.  The Companion (Jan Garbarek/Nana Vasconselos) 5:49
7.  Snipp, Snapp, Snute (Jan Garbarek/Nana Vasconselos) 4:28
8.  East of the Sun and West of the Moon (Jan Garbarek/John Abercrombie/Nana Vasconselos) 8:26

Personnel:
Jan Garbarek (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone, Flutes)
John Abercrombie (Guitar, Mandolin Guitar)
Nana Vasconcelos (Berimbau, Talking Drum, Percussion, Voice)

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