Jan Garbarek: The Creek

4 Mar

Jan Garbarek

Jan Garbarek's Legend Of The Seven Dreams, rescued from a cutout bin

Birthday greetings to Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, who celebrates No. 64 today.

You won’t normally hear Garbarek where you hear traditional jazz — his sound is usually referred to as European jazz. It’s instantly recognizable, sometimes haunting and often beautiful. But his roots are traditional American jazz; as a youngster, it was hearing John Coltrane play that inspired him to do likewise.

American pianist George Russell was Garbarek’s first big mentor after Russell settled for a time in Scandinavia — ironic, since Garbarek grew up in Norway the son of a Polish prisoner of war, who according to jazz.com, was deported to Norway as a laborer.

Garbarek’s work with pianist Keith Jarrett only increased the reputation of both through the 70s. But Garbarek has not been limited since he began recording more than 40 years ago — he has an extensive discography as a leader and a lengthy list of associates, from the most accomplished artists at the ECM record label to one-time unions with musicians the world over.

Most of Garbarek’s many albums are without liner notes, and while there are plenty of pictures of him, there are also just as many pictures of  countryside, presumably from his native Norway. Not surprisingly, Garabarek recently composed a song called: The Reluctant Saxophonist. “It could be me. I certainly feel like it sometimes,” he told jazz.com. ” . . . When you actually play it’s fun, but you have to get down to it and there other things to do, other thoughts to think.”

When he does play, there’s only one thought to think:  Tusen takk.

The link below is to The Creek, off his 1996 album Visible World.

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