Jan Garbarek is a musician that I had been curious for a while but never had a chance to really check out. The Norwegian saxophonist became fascinated with the music of John Coltrane as a teenager and his path was set. After playing with expatriate American musicians in the 1960's he developed his own unique sound and began a longstanding relationship with the ECM record label not long after. Despite a lengthy recording career, Garbarek had never recorded a live album prior to this one, which was recorded in Germany in October 2007. On this double disc set Garbarek leads on saxophones and flute with Rainer Brüninghaus on piano and keyboards, Yuri Daniel on bass and Manu Katché on drums. The first song, "Paper Nut" was my favorite of the album, starting things off in a fast, swirling and very energetic manner. He has a different conception than the "blues and bop" American musical model. "Heilor" builds to a climax of pinched sounding saxophone, he gets an interesting and unusual sound that is quite compelling. "12 Moons" begins with a nice piano trio, and then moves on extended solo saxophone ruminations. "Rondo" features fender rhodes and electric bass, while "Tao" is a deft electric bass solo. I found "The Reluctant Saxophonist" to be another highlight, Garbarek takes his time developing the music to a furious climactic statement. It was interesting listening to Garbarek's saxophone, because despite his Coltrane influence, he has a different conception to his music. Unlike American saxophonists that takes blues and bebop as their touchstone, his music seems to be rooted in a more European model of folk music and classical training.
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