been his quartet. and the saxophonist returns to Scotland with the latest version.
Changes tend to come slowly in Garbarek‘s group. and his releases for the ECM label over the past couple of decades chronicle some of the variations. Back in the days when he was a rather more expansive stylist than he is now. he led a Norwegian quartet with guitarist Terje Rypdal. Arild Andersen on bass. and drummer Jon Christensen. The drummer also featured in a later outfit with pianist Bobo Stenson and Palle Danielsson on bass. which some listeners still regard as the best of his groups. and which also - minus Stenson— formed pianist Keith Jarrett‘s European quartet.
The Places album in 1978 featured Bill Conners on guitar. John Taylor on organ. and Jack DeJohnette on drums. In 1982. however. he recruited German bass-player
Jan Garbarek: into the cool Eberhard Weber. who has remained at the heart ofsuccessive line-ups through the 1980s. A mid-decade version featured guitarist David Tom and Michael DiPasqua on drums. but the settled line-up ofthe past four or five years has meant Weber. pianist Rainer Bruninghaus, and Nana Vasconcelos.
Each of these groups has evolved its own particular variation on the saxophonist‘s music, and will doubtless begin to do so again in the latest incarnation ofthe band, in which percussionist Marilyn Mazur, last heard in these parts with Wayne Shorter, replaces Vasconcelos. If there has been a common thread running through them, though, it is Garbarek's tendency to pare down both the harmonic and melodic framework of his music, and to couch his improvisations in less complex forms.
‘It seems there is one major
direction, yes, and that is my tendency to play less than I did in the beginning. My introduction to jazz was through John Coltrane, which means a lot of playing, but over many years I began to work in a different way. I started to take out all the things that I didn’t really want, or that were not doing much good.
‘I had to decide when I played something whether it really belonged to me, or whether I had taken it from someplace else, and if that was true, then I had to learn to do without it. Ofcourse, you might end up not doing very much ifall you have is whatever you haven’t taken from somebody else, but ifyou are patient, something is bound to happen. This is what I am striving for throughout my life.’
There are those who would argue that Garbarek has taken this process too far, and that it is time to start putting back a lot of the things which he has, to use his own metaphor, weeded out. Certainly, it would be difficult to see where much more paring could be done on the stark but often lovely material which now predominates in his work, and a more luxuriant growth to go with that steely clarity and incomparable tonal lustre on both tenor and soprano would not go amiss.
Nonetheless, Garbarek remains among the most popular figures in contemporary jazz, and has attracted an audience from beyond the usual confines ofthe genre. His latest ECM release, Star, features a project which toured in Europe — but not Scotland — last summer, and united the saxophonist in an acoustic trio with Miroslav Vitous and Peter Erskine, and his quartet tour which launches the new Silk Cut City Jazz season will emphasise that popularity all over again.
Some of Garbarek’s appeal clearly lies in those plangent, thoroughly folk-like melodies which have become such a familiar part of his music. While most overt in his co7/slaboration with singer Agnes Buen Garnas on the evocative Rosensfole album, based on medieval Norwegian ballads, Garbarek acknowledges the initially indirect influence of the Nordic folk heritage.
‘I have not played traditional folk music at all, but when you grow up in Norway, you do tend to hear that kind of music. It’s on the radio quite often, or you hear it in school and so on, because this is the Norwegian heritage, and it is a special kind of sound, so you don’t really forget it.
‘After a few years of playing, I began to realise that certain aspects of what I was doing were very similar to things in Norwegian folk music. At that point I started to listen more consciously to it, and went into folk archives to transcribe material and so on, but then I used the material as [would play it, in a very different setting to the original one. Even ifI played it exactly as written, just the sound of the saxophone and the other instruments would set it apart from the pure folk music.’
The Jan Garbarek Group play at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Tue 3.
PREVIEW MUSIC V LISTEN!
Chart. BBC Broadcasting
House. Queen Margaret
Drive. Glasgow G 12
I The wondrous Luke is
'definitely leaving the much-loved Glasgow band Fenn. but he‘s hanging around until a new singer/guitarist is found. Hopefuls should contact Richie on 041 332 6231 (daytime) or 041812 4267 (evening). However. bear in mind that the successful applicant will be ‘totally sonic‘ and must own at least two Gang Of Four albums. I The Variety Bar has opened for business on the old site of Chancers. down Chalmers Close off Edinburgh's High Street, and is now looking for live bands to put on. For more information, call 031 557 5150. I Just continued as the support group for the Sugarcubes tour is ‘the over-wrought, over- wracked and intensely compulsive live band‘ Levitation, whose LP. Coren'e, was fulsomely praised on these pages a couple of issues ago. A match made in heaven, so get to The Barrowland earlv on Mon 9.
I Ian McCulloch’s ‘Lover Lover Lover‘ single and recent ‘intimate‘ sell-out shows in the States have raised interest in his career to post-Bunnymen heights. Still to be conﬁrmed, but in the planning stages, is a McCulloch session on Allan Campbell’s RFM (7—10pm, 97.3) show on Sun 8. Deﬁniter booked for that night are Ronin, who provided the music for the Levi‘s ‘pirate radio‘ ad and will be rapping and scratching the decks live on-air. Also, if the Big Star review on page 30 has caught your attention, Jeff Rugvie, who compiled the albums for Rykodisc, will be interviewed on the programme on Sun 1. That‘s enough plugs, Campbell, we‘re not even going to mention that you‘re talking to Ingrid Chavez the same night. Got that?
The List 28 February — 12 March 1992 27